Almost a century ago, there was an amusement park at JBLM.
The three-story Swiss-style, white structure, just off the I-5 Freeway, known today as the Lewis Army Museum, is the only building that remains of an amusement park that once occupied a 100-acre site.
The construction of and eventual destruction of the place known as Greene Park is just one of the many exhibits included in the military museum that encompasses exhibits of regional military history and the role of JBLM/Ft. Lewis.
Many people have visited Historic Ft. Steilacoom, just off Steilacoom Blvd. The remaining four historic buildings, all that remain of the first American military operation in this region, were restored in the 1970s. After Camp Lewis was begun in 1917, its first commander, MG Henry A. Greene, in support of Pres. Woodrow Wilson’s Progressive goals to provide healthful recreation for young men, partnered with local service clubs and entrepreneurs, to create the area that became known as Greene’s Park.
Today, Watson Meyer, who is completing his Eagle Scout project, plans to erect historic markers around this site, to designate the location of these long-ago structures. The amusement park included billiard parlors, movie theatres, a photo studio and more. The park was the way to “keep soldiers away from the vice outside the gate,” according to museum curator Myles Grant, who recently presented a program about the park’s history.
Sure, there may not have been any carousels or Ferris wheels, but the amusements that were there and their history provide an interesting glimpse into regional history. The Army Museum is open from 11 to 4 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday. The museum is just one of half a dozen small museums in this region (from Lakewood to Dupont) that provide a glimpse into the “good old days” of this region.
To learn more visit www.fortlewismuseum.com or consider visiting it this weekend. Fort visitors must first check in at JBLM’s Main Gate.