Spread under tall oak and evergreen trees, Idlewild Park began in 1878 as a 300-acre picnic destination for Judge Thomas Mellon's narrow-gauge Ligonier Valley Railroad, which closed in 1952. Conversion to standard-gauge lines allowed families, schools, and church groups to travel directly from Pittsburgh to the park beginning in 1881. Among the park's oldest buildings are the frame train station (1878) and a white frame carousel pavilion (1896) with a cupola, which houses a Philadelphia Toboggan Company carousel built in the 1920s and brought to the park in 1931. The Rollo Coaster by the same company opened in 1938. Other features at the park include manmade lakes, water slides, fishing areas, and mature shade trees. In 1956, the park opened Story Book Forest, a collection of fifteen life-size displays of nursery rhymes, and in 1989, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood of Make-Believe was built to honor Latrobe native Fred Rogers and his popular public television children's program. Taliesin-trained architect Peter Berndtson designed the entrance gates, now modified, along U.S. 30 in 1956. The Darlington Station (c. 1878), located at the western end of Idlewild Park, is one of the few surviving stations of the Ligonier Valley Railroad and is being restored to house the Ligonier Valley Rail Road Museum.
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