Homepage Beginning Location First Rides 1920.s 1930's 1940's 1950's
The Idea

Around 1912 in Des Moines, business entrepreneur, Abe Frankle had a vision. He had visited the famous Coney Island Amusement complex on the east coast and was determined to bring the concept to Des Moines. Coney Island was a wondrous place. It offered a social mingling for young and old and was offering rides and attractions found very few other places. Always innovative, Coney would have it first and then it would be copied across the nation’s trolley parks.

The American public was flocking to such amusement parks, but Coney Island set the standard for truly fun times.. The variety of attractions they had included everything: water rides, miniature scenic railroad rides, fun houses, tunnels of love, and of course, rides that would spin you, turn you upside down and make you scream with excitement.... Abe Frankle knew he had to bring this to Des Moines, Iowa

Abe was already involved in several Des Moines business entities and had the contacts to share his vision with. He was co-owner of the Alexandria club, an elite business’ man's club in downtown Des Moines that offered upper scale billiards and bowling. He also owned theaters along with Abe Blank, the founder of the Central States Theater empire. The times were right in Des Moines and the proven concept of Coney Island...along with placing a park at the end of street car route was an idea that pretty much sold itself....

The perfect site was the former Zoological Lake Gardens, a pseudo island surrounded by a spring fed, man-made lake and a popular zoo and recreation park created by L. W. Mann of Highland Park in 1889. The location was owned and controlled by Joseph Muelhaupt, owner of the Des Moines Ice company, who was to be an initial investor in Abe Frankle's dream.

Riverview Amusement Company Inc was formed and select individuals snapped up an initial preferred stock offering totaling 50 thousand dollars.

Besides Abe Frankle (President) and Joseph Muelhaupt (Vice President), the remaining initial stock purchasers were...

Abe Lurie...Owner/operator of Whites City amusements and several theaters.

C. C. Taft (Treasurer)...owner of C. C. Taft Company, a large wholesaler and distributor of produce, beer, candy and cigars and tobaccos that operated a string of Cigar stores throughout Des Moines as well as selling C.C. Taft brand ice cream all over central Iowa

F. C. Walrath (Secretary).... a 9th district court reporter

George W. Real (General Superintendent)

Eli Bookey (Assistant General Superintendent)

Ira B. Thomas (Vice President 1917)

W. Earl Kooker (Secretary 1918)...Attorney and General Manager-Consumers Ice Company

Abe knew that to make Riverview the "Coney Island" of Iowa they must duplicate some of the most popular attractions of the actual Coney Island. He and the board of directors made sure that Riverview was to open with some of the same successful rides that Coney Island had.


Link to Next Page.....Selecting the Land



......... Abe Frankel


C. C. Taft


Frank Walrath


W. Earl Kooker