Neonatology on the Web

Lakeside Amusement Park, Denver

Lakeside Amusement Park, Denver

Postcard of Lakewood Amusement Park, then known as White City, ca. 1910.

The Lakeside Amusement Park in Denver was built in 1908 and was originally named White City, like many other amusement parks of the time. The park still exists today and is one of the oldest amusement parks in the United States, as well as one of the few remaining “trolley parks.” In the early 1900’s, it included a Martin Couney’s incubator baby exhibit among its other attractions. The exact dates are uncertain, but there is coverage in the contemporary press during 1911 and 1912, and there is a mention of a baby born in 1913 in the PhD thesis quoted below, so it lasted at least a few years. I have not as yet been able to locate any pictures of the incubator baby exhibit, however, other than the one in the 1911 Rocky Mountain News clipping.

Located in a quiet corner of the park, near the Grand Stairway that led up to the Tower, was another common amusement park attraction, the Baby Incubators. Dr. Martin Couney, a German born and trained physician, had exhibited premature babies in incubators at amusement parks and fairs around the country. Couney charged a twenty-five cent admission fee to see the babies and gave a lecture about his practices, which included taking their pulse with a gold pocket watch the size of a baseball and passing a gold wedding ring over a baby’s fist and arm. The admission fee went to pay for the costs associated with caring for the babies. In addition to Couney, the staff at Lakeside included two other doctors and three pediatric nurses. An amusement park might have seemed like a strange place to house premature babies in incubators, but Couney had long struggled to get doctors and hospitals to accept his ideas. By placing the incubators in amusement parks, where people congregated and expected to see the strange or shocking, Couney hoped to gain widespread public acceptance of his new device. Near the end of his life, Couney, who died in 1950, estimated that he saved 6,500 of the 8,000 preemies under his care. The most famous of the Lakeside babies was Rosemary Fouts, who weighed twenty-eight ounces when she was born May 24, 1913. By the end of the summer she weighed 3 pounds, 1 ounce. Visitors to Lakeside that year cheered every advance Rosemary made and worried, along with her mother Carrie, at setbacks, such as when one of the other incubator babies died. Even after she left the park, the public kept track of Rosemary until she was eight years old, at which time she disappeared from public view. — David Forsyth’s PhD Thesis, University of Colorado, 2012

Some press clippings from the contemporary press coverage can be found below.

The Rocky Mountain News, Denver, July 9, 1911.
The Daily News, Denver, July 12, 1911.
The Rocky Mountain News, Denver, August 30, 1911.
The Rocky Mountain News, Denver, August 7, 1912.
The Fort Collins Express, August 8, 1912.
The Rocky Mountain News, Denver, August 22, 1912

Martin Arthur Couney

Martin Couney Exhibits in World’s Fairs and National Expositions

Martin Couney Sideshows in Amusement Parks

Recent Books

General Articles

General articles about Martin Couney and his exhibits are linked below. Additional links may be found in specific posts about his participation in expositions or sideshows.

Keep in mind that many of these were written before the full facts about Martin Couney’s background became known, or have not incorporated that new information, so they include information from his self-invented background legend.