Paul Boyton

 (often misspelled Boynton) (b. June 29, 1848 in Ratthangan, Kildare County, Ireland — April 19, 1924), known as the Fearless Frogman, was a showman and adventurer some credit as having spurred worldwide interest in water sports as a hobby, particularly open-water swimming. Boyton, whose birthplace is variously listed as Dublin or Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is best known for his water stunts that captivated the world, including crossing the English Channel in a novel rubber suit that functioned similarly to a kayak.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Coney Island

    When Paul Boyton arrived at Coney Island in 1895 he was already a famous world wide celebrity. 
In 1895 he bought 16 acres behind the Elephant Hotel in Chicago and opened his Sea Lion Park in time for Fourth of July. It was the first outdoor amusement park in the world, enclosed with a gate and charged admission - believe it was 5c.
  Sea Lion Park featured a broad lagoon, an old-mill water ride and a Shoot-the-Chutes ride. The later was an aquatic toboggan slide in flat bottomed boats that slid down a long steep slide into the lagoon. Boyton and inventor Thomas Polk designed an upcurve at the incline's lower end that launched the down-rushing boat into the air before it hit the surface of the water. The result was that it performed a series of hops and skips, each impact heaving the passengers from their seats then thumping them down again. It produced a thrilling climax for both its passengers and spectators. The boat was guided to a landing by a boatman on board, then pulled up the ramp by cable and turned around on a small turntable to be ready for the next complement of passengers who arrived at the top by elevator. 
  Paul Boyton's name was his own headline attraction where he also demonstrated his swimming skills in his rubber suit. There were forty sea lions trained to juggle and compete in water races. Boyton also promoted water races, in which the contestants wore pneumatic shoes he had invented, and aquatic ball games on water bicycles.  In subsequent years Paul Boyton added an old-mill water ride, a gee-way and cages of live wolves. After he built a large ballroom in 1899, the park increased in popularity. However, it was only modestly successful finacially since it failed to entice repeat customers with new attractions on a yearly basis. But it was the dismal rainy 1902 season when it was wet and cloudy nearly 70 days of the 92 day summer season that brought Boyton to near financial ruin. When Thompson and Dundy, the men who operated the "Trip to the Moon" ride at Steeplechase, approached him, he was eager to lease his property to them for a 25 year lease. 
  Know as Cap to friends and family he continued to live in the Brooklyn at Sheepshead Bay until his death on April 19, 1924.  A memorial plaque was placed at Luna Park in honor of his invention of the Shoot-the-Chutes ride. While he was also the first to enclose an amusement park at Coney Ilsand, he was always annoyed that people, especially newspaper reporters continued to mispell his name as Boynton instead of Boyton. 

1 comment:

saloon artist said...

Colleen- please contact me, I tried to email you but that email is no longer working. I'm a big fan of Captain Paul Boyton and want to purchase a signed copy of your book. My email is

kind regards,
Jill DeGRoff