Editor's note: This is the 233rd in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.
HUNTINGTON — The popular skating rink at Camden Park was destroyed in an April 23, 1996, fire. Camden's business office and Skee-Ball game, housed in the same building, also went up in flames.
"There was nothing we could do to save the building," Ceredo VFD Chief Johnny Robertson said. "The fire started somewhere in the games area and spread to the roller rink. The wind was blowing from west to east, and it just sucked the flames through the building. The best we could do was save the rest of the park. It's tough. All of us who live in this area have spent a part of our lives here."
Motorists stopped along U.S. 60 and Interstate 64 above the park to observe the fire, which raged for two hours.
Camden Park owner John Boylin estimated the total loss at $1 million or more - and noted the building wasn't insured. "Insurance on an amusement park is astronomical," he said. "You have to pick and choose what you want to insure. And invariably you choose the wrong thing."
During the 1940s and '50s, the Camden rink was operated by Robert Black, who owned or operated several other rinks in the Tri-State Area, including the former Black's Roller Skating Rink in Ashland.
Ironically, the park's skating rink was built in 1959 to replace an earlier rink that burned the previous year. Another major fire in the 1960s destroyed the park's large horse stable area. The park had been the long-time site of the annual West Virginia State Championship Horse show, sponsored by the Huntington Junior League.
Camden's skating rink was not rebuilt.
Do you enjoy the "Lost Huntington" series?
"Lost Huntington: Volume 1" is a hardcover, full-color book of some of the city's lost landmarks. The book is likely to be of interest to anyone who enjoys history and loves Huntington.
Books are $29.95 plus tax, shipping and handling. To order, visit media.herald-dispatch.com/ecom/ or call 304-526-2720.