Kiddie Dude Ranch, southeast corner of Roosevelt Road and Lawler Avenue in Lombard, IL (1940-1960)
After searching the Internet and making a few inquiries, I received a phone call from Ralph Weimer, son of Earl Weimer, the owner and operator of the "Kiddie Dude Ranch" in Lombard, Illinois. The story goes...
Ralph Weimer said his father was a carpenter by trade, and he built their house off Lawler around 1931-32. "In those days you could easily count the number of cars passing by on Roosevelt Road."
Weimer remembers, as a child, his father taking him for pony rides in Elmhurst (Roosevelt and York Roads) at a pony ring, run out of a trailer park by a man named Steve Wall. When Wall decided to sell the pony ring, Earl Weimer in 1939 bought the ponies - about 10 in all - and the saddles, along with the fencing, which Weimer noted was originally built for the 1933 Chicago World's Fair. The fencing, which Weimer described as 66-foot wide, 200-foot-long "ornate ten-foot sections, painted white with red and white striped poles at each end.
When asked why his dad decided to create the amusement park, Weimer replied that his father "wanted to get into something like that; an entrepreneurial spirit." During the week Earl Weimer worked in carpentry and ran the pony ride operation on weekends.
Weimer recalled that his father set up pony rides at area carnivals, and around 1945, built a new barn on Roosevelt Road, and added a mini train, ticket stand and other features to the amusement park, including a parking lot, merry-go-round, "Turn Pike" car ride, whip, boat ride, small Ferris wheel, airplane ride and a fire engine ride. The amusement park came to offer for sale refreshments such as soda, candy, popcorn and ice cream, and Earl Weimer went on to build a shelter over the pony hitching rail.
The whole family worked at the Kiddie Dude Ranch, including his mother, who was "very actively involved" in such jobs as working at the ticket stand, keeping the books and selling refreshments. His mother died in 1955, and his father closed the amusement park in 1960, due to illness, and died shortly afterward, said Weimer.
*Photographs are the property of Ralph Weimer who sent me the photographs to scan so I may document his families amusement park. Permissions from Ralph Weimer.
*Special thanks to the Lombard Historical Society, the Lombardian, and Jane Charmelo.