Coldwater and The Picnic are built on land acquired by the Kenneth Wallace family following the end of WWII. In the late 1940s, Mr. Wallace and his wife, Joyce, began building what became a beloved children’s amusement park. They named it Kiddieland Park, and over the next few years, added miniature carnival rides and other attractions.
The park was especially popular for birthday parties and picnics. Mrs. Wallace sold tickets for the rides and was hostess for many parties. A miniature replica steam locomotive was driven by Mr. Oscar Bryce, who wore his train engineer’s uniform and hat. Mr. and Mrs. Wallace added a Merry-Go-Round, a Ferris Wheel, Shetland pony rides, a Trolley Car, a Narrow Gauge Flatcar and Ski Boats built for two in a moat. The Shetland ponies pastured near the Butler Ballfields on Toomey Road. Each Wednesday was Nickel Day, when all rides were five cents.
Kiddieland delighted Austin children and their families throughout the 1950s. After the war years, it was a snapshot of a peaceful time. Later, the property became Mobile Manor RV Park, which the Wallace family operated for more than fifty years. Archival photographs of Kiddieland Park from the Neal Douglas Collection in the Austin History Center and from the Kenneth Wallace family are on display in Coldwater’s Leasing office at 1717 Toomey Road. Visible in one of the June, 1950 photos are The Pit BBQ and a Texaco filling station where John Zapp’s and Mike Young’s first Chuy’s now stands.
Barton Springs Bike Rentals, across Barton Springs Road from The Picnic, was once home to Krumm Motorcycles. Adrian and Mildred Krumm lived in the rock house directly above their Harley dealership. A few doors east, today’s Juiceland was previously Jesse Garza’s Gold Coins shop.
Until the Colorado River was dammed to form Lake Austin in 1940 and Lake Travis in 1941, much of the land between Barton Springs Road and the river, including Zilker Park, was subject to devastating floods. Most south Austin homes were wisely built on the bluffs above the floodplain, including the 140 year old Kinney family homeplace, among the oldest existing Austin structures south of the river. The building just below it at the corner of Kinney Avenue and Barton Springs Road was the first location of Hill Abell’s Bicycle Sport Shop.
Mr. Wallace and Zilker Park
In the summer of 1956, Mayor Tom Miller, who serves as Austin’s mayor for twenty-two years, and the City Council approved a motion for Mr. Wallace to operate a Pedal Boat concession in Barton Creek. It was the first of its kind in Zilker Park. The boats travelled from the Barton Springs Pool Spillway to the historic Barton Springs Road Bridge and back.
Minutes of the council meeting said that revenues were to be dedicated for improvements to Zilker Park and “Zilker” Springs. The fifteen minute ride cost twenty five cents.
Coldwater and The Picnic were built to honor the Wallace family; their stewardship of this land; and were conceived to be a fun fit for the Austin we know today.