Time is just a word we made up to keep track of the moments as they pass. A collection of letters, trapped in a meaning. It’s the memories that matter - the sharp hue of neon lights spinning on the spokes of a ferris wheel, a saltwater breeze as you ride a gondola, or maybe it’s the rollercoaster that made your knuckles first go white when you rode it. For a lot of native Rhode Islanders this was Rocky Point Amusement Park.
The park created memories for people living here from 1847 to around 1996 when it was closed down because of financial strife. For many Rocky Point was a staple of their summer vacation. It was their mental postcard, and sometimes their literal one, of family fun and excitement. For anyone born after it closed (or didn’t live here yet, like me) Rocky Point’s legacy is ever present. It’s talked about, painted into murals, iconified on menus - it is and will always be a part of Rhode Island’s ether.
Rocky Point sat right on the bay in Warwick for the better part of a century and a half. And while it was there Rhode Islanders enjoyed a variety of rides: Roller coasters, the Russian Toboggan, Looff, Tumble-Bug, The Wildcat, Cyclone, The Saltwater Flume, the Corkscrew Loop Coaster, a House of Horrors, and the Freefall. And that’s just naming a few that existed over the years.
After the park was closed time crept back up on it. The once bright glow of neon against the gift shops was replaced with creeping vines. Trees began to grow through food stands. Grass consuming the paved spaces and tracks. Even the ocean helped itself to part of the Saltwater Flume.
For almost two decades what had once been so cherished had been reluctantly left by the wayside. But now Rocky Point is living its second life. Managed by the state as a walking path, you can take a stroll around the grassy landscape (don’t worry all the spooky abandoned park stuff is gone) and breath in the fresh saltwater breeze. Because while time may have taken the rides from us, it’s the memories that never lose their vibrance.
Thanks for reading!
+ Colin Carlton