The postcard on the above left was the Highlands first entry building. A flimsy affair, it actually faced northwest, directly in line of the 1904 World's Fair across the street and slightly west of FPH. The parks' Scenic Railway (coaster) is directly behind the entry way. Later a more permanent entrance was built. The bottom part of the building was reused and lasted the rest of the Highlands lifetime. It originally did not have a dome. That was added later. Then, in the mid-forties, the entrance Rotunda was built, which lasted until the Highlands' demise on July 19,1963.
 
The postcard (above) and photo (right) show the Highlands first roller coaster, an L.A. Marcus Thompson Scenic Railway. The view on the right is looking east. The chimneys in the background are the Highlands Brickworks. The scenic's route travels down Oakland Ave., then turns right, approximately where the Comet would later be. The ride had tunnels and scenery which were changed from time to time keeping the ride fresh and up to date. The track was over a half mile long and lasted until 1912.
(photo on right, courtesy of Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis, MO.)
The photo above is one of my top favorites. A lady...bless her heart...contacted me concerning a photo she had found. The photo was identified as "Forest Park Highlands" on the back. It has a roller coaster on it, she also said. Indeed! This photo is a history in itself. On the right side is half of the Mountain Ride with the faux facade removed. Mid-ground is the Comet's predecessor, The Racer Dips, showing nearly the entire triangular layout. And, if you look close enough, just on the outside of The Racer, you can see the remains of the Highlands first coaster, The Scenic Railway. I offered her $40.00 site unseen for the photograph. If I would've known what the picture was of, I would've gone much higher. But I thank her again and again everytime I see this wonderful photograph.
Courtesy of the Western Historical Manuscript Collection, University of Missouri-St. Louis)
These two photos are of the parks Racer Dips. Most people referred to this coaster as the Racing Derby, or Derby Racer. The extremely rare postcard (above right) showing the rides entrance solves the name issue. This John Miller designed ride was a single track racing coaster. One long continuous track crosses over itself forming a set of parallel tracks. If you boarded on the right side, you got off of the ride on the left side and vice versa. The Racer at Kennywood Park, West Mifflin, PA., is the only ride like it left in the US.
The postcard above shows the interior of the FPH theater. Sarah Bernhardt, a famous and well loved actress at the turn of the century, played there, and later, Sophie Tucker and her naughty jokes..."Ernie, get off my back!"
On the top right is a 1902 advertisement for a minstrel show in the FPH theater and a 1901 program cover below. If you gaze into the theater postcard, you can almost imagine being in the front row watching, dare I say,...a turn of the century ...Cher.
Later, once vaudeville became passe, the Highlands remodeled the theater into a funhouse containing slides, spinning platforms and the like. Once insurance became to steep, the building was remodeled again for the boat ride and a few other rides like the Cuddle Up and Tip-Top.
This ride was situated where the largest shooting gallery would later be. The building to the Ticklers' right, just barely in the picture was the parks' dance hall. A quirky ride, not for queezy stomachs. It spun and zig zagged simultainiously on while picking up speed closer towards the end. It was a predecessor of The Virginia Reel, both rides a staple of  early amusement parks. When the 1904 St. Louis Worlds' Fair closed, one of the most important items that was moved to FPH across the street and slightly east, was a re-creation of a gateway to a Temple in Nekko, Japan. It was used as the entry way to the midway to the Worlds' Fair. At the Highlands, it was used as a bandshell. I always thought it was removed to make room when Flying Turns were built in 1934. The Pagoda was actually moved in the early years of the 1940's due to the growing sentiment about WWII.
(above left) The man in the moon has a name! He is Fred McFarland having his picture taken in Lida Platz' photo salon at Forest Park Highlands. (above right) The man in this photo is Milton McFarland, Freds' son. The lovely lady is his wife, Thelma. The stairway in the background is access to the beer garden Al Fresco style on the upper layer of the picnic area. I wish I would've had this photo when I wrote my book. It would've been one of the best shots in there! I just LOVE this photo! It was sent to me by Miltons' son, Neal McFarland, now residing in Fla. Thanks Neal! You help make this web site what it is!!!!!!
This moody photo depicts a very quiet Highlands in its very, very early years. You can make out the Pagoda & The Mountain Ride ..if you look real close.
from the collection of Mamie "sis" George, sent by Faye Berra Vennegoni
Postcard added 3-14-14: Helter Skelter...These spiral slides were quite common during the early 1900’s. This is what the Beatles' song by the same name was about..you know the words.."when I get to the top of the slide, I stop and I turn and I go for a ride till I get to the bottom and I see you again".... No Charles Manson. Nada. This version was located near the parks theater, on the west side of the park. There’s still a few located in Great Britain.
©2009