- 1527 â€“ The first known letter from North America is sent by John Rut while at St. John’s, Newfoundland.
- 1678 â€“ Robert LaSalle builds the Le Griffon, the first known ship built on the Great Lakes.
- 1900 â€“ The Firestone Tire & Rubber Company is founded.
- 1946 â€“ Santa Claus Land, the world’s first themed amusement park, opens in Santa Claus, Indiana, US.
Plans for what would become Santa Claus Land were first conceived as a retirement project by Louis J. Koch, a retired industrialist from Evansville, Indiana. In 1941, Koch visited the town of Santa Claus, Indiana. A family man and father of nine children, it bothered him that children traveled to the town only to be disappointed when they discovered Santa Claus was not there. In response, Koch developed the idea for a park where children could have fun and visit Santa year-round. Although initial construction plans were delayed by World War II, construction of Santa Claus Land eventually began on August 4, 1945.
Santa Claus Land opened on August 3, 1946. At no cost, the park offered a Santa, a toy shop, toy displays, a restaurant, and themed children’s rides, one of which was The Freedom Train that continues to operate today. After overcoming doubts about the park’s ability for success, Louis Koch’s son, William A. “Bill” Koch, Sr., took over as head of Santa Claus Land. In the following years, Bill Koch continued to add to the park, including the first Jeep-Go-Round ever manufactured, a new restaurant, and a deer farm which was eventually home to fourteen European white fallow deer.
Beginning in 1955, Santa Claus Land charged admission for the first time; adults were charged 50 cents while children continued to be admitted for free. Despite the new cost of admission, attendance continued to grow with the park. The Pleasureland ride section, which exists today as Rudolph’s Reindeer Ranch, debuted in 1955. In the early 1970s, additional children’s rides, including Dasher’s Seahorses, Comet’s Rockets, Blitzen’s Airplanes, and Prancer’s Merry-Go-Round, were added to this section. From 1959 to 1961, the first live entertainment, the Willie Bartley Water Ski Thrill Show, performed on Lake Rudolph each summer. A Santa Claus Choir composed of local children also performed at the park in 1970 and 1971.