Camden Park officially opened in 1903 as a picnic and recreation area along the Camden Interstate Railway streetcar line. The rail line, owned and operated by Sen. Johnson Newlon Camden of Parkersburg, ran between Huntington and Ashland.
Six years later, Via purchased the park from the streetcar company, and continued to operate it until his death in 1946. That year, the park was up to nine rides, and was purchased by John Boylin, Sr.
Boylin owned and managed the park until 1980, and made many improvements and additions. In 1958, the Big Dipper, one of the only wooden coasters left of its kind, was installed. That was also the year the Cabaret Room, which hosted dances and band performances burned to the ground, replaced a year later by the roller rink.
Unfortunately, the group of Virginia investors who took control of the park in 1980 let the park run into disrepair. The park was poorly managed, and the investors owed a lot of money, much of it to the Boylin family, who still owned the land. In 1995, the John Boylin, Jr., along with his wife and son, take over management of the park and begin to help clean things up. Today, the park is run by Jack Boylin, grandson of John Boylin, Sr.
Over the years, the park has picked up the reputation for being haunted. Located within the park property is an Adena Indian burial mound, which has never been excavated. The mound is the only one left of its kind in the area, and is the third largest in the state. Because of the location of the park, it is rumored to be haunted by Native American spirits. One witness reports seeing the apparition of one Native American chasing the apparition of another, while carrying a knife. A reader to my site, unfamiliar with the park's haunted history or presence of an Adena Mound, recently confided that SHE too had seen the vision of a Native American, and was simply told she must be imagining things.
The Big Dipper also has had its share of reported apparitions. A woman's figure is sometimes reported seated in the last car of the wooden coaster.