Cascade skatepark, is located off Route 40 in Catonsville, Baltimore County. The remanence of parts of this skatepark still remain, yet today it is hidden amongst bush, dirt and scrap. A very cool spot that was once a huge part of skateboarding history in Baltimore.
Article, images and video can be found here
The Charnwood Bowl is regarded as Australia’s second oldest skatepark. Lucky enough this skate park still exists today, even though it is a bit rough around the edges it is very rideable. The story of this park begins in 1979 and it seems like it’s always been a bit of a controversial place that has been scrutinised from the very beginning.
Article, images and video can be found here
Hello everyone and welcome back to Season 2 of Skate Spot Pod. We thank you all for tuning in today. We have a tonne of great skate spots to get through during this new season so we hope that you are all as pumped as we are to kick this off. For anyone who missed our update last week, we have launched a new website, in which we will be uploading all our skate spots and research. You will be able to find the links in the description below if you want to go away and look at more accompanying material like images and videos, they will be all housed in one spot just to make it easier for you all.
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Alright so let’s kick this episode off and take a trip to Catonsville, Maryland. Cascade skatepark, is located off Route 40 in Catonsville, in Baltimore County. The reminiscence of parts of this skatepark still remain, yet today it is hidden amongst bush, dirt and just scrap, at yet this is a very cool spot that was once a huge part of skateboarding history in Baltimore.
Cascade Skatepark was built by Lee Plate and Lee had a dream when he was a kid to race cars, yet could never find a safe place to do so. So when his son David became obsessed with skateboarding and the fact that there was no safe, legal place to do so in the area at the time, it gave birth to an idea which would later develop into the construction of the skatepark. Pretty cool Dad, to do this for your son. So Lee took the plunge and sold his stake in an auto service station in which he was a co-owner and partnered up with another local businessman Joe Mullaney. Both Lee and Joe did a lot of research a year before the construction of the skatepark, they visited parks up and down the East Coast and were able to gain inspiration and also identified mistakes that were regularly being repeated. They are quoted saying “when we were ready to start designing Cascade we knew not what to do”. It ended up being a 250,000 USD facility on two acres that housed 7 different types of outdoor bowls / pools that varied in skill level, which were opened in August of 1978. The variety that this place had would have been epic, I stumbled across an old flyer that was made for the park and they had really thought of a lot when it came to the variety of terrain, which included a double pool with vert section, 50 metre banked downhill slalom, freestyle competition area, and snakeruns. There was also one indoor pool that was geared for more advanced skateboarders. The indoor pool was 24 feet wide and 10.5 feet deep, which was opened in Jan of 1979. It was also noted that Lee intended to construct bleachers for spectators around the bowl yet not 100% sure if this ended up happening in the end. The indoor facility also included a pro shop, where equipment could be hired and bought, accompanied by pinball machines and snackbar.
During a short period after the facility opened, there were a few invitational contests that were held at Cascade. One I found in some old newspaper clippings that was held on the 3rd of March 1979. Yet from what I can gather on social media, this place was a hub for skateboarders in Baltimore during the late 70’s. During this time there was Cascade and one other skatepark, the Concrete Wave, that existed in the area at the time. From what we can gather this place held and still holds a lot of sentimentality to many skaters of the 70s generation.
So as we move into the 80’s unfortunately the majority of the skatepark was destroyed, yet one bowl would remain for an unlikely reason. Apparently this bowl was built to also act as a water drainage system. During the construction of the skatepark the amount of soil that was shifted and the fact that the grounds were slightly slanted an agreement was made with the county to build this bowl which would also act as a water run off station, that still is hooked up to the county storm water system to this day. Ironic that during the past few decades it has still been skated and survived despite having a number of heavy objects along with dirt and branches dumped into wider areas of the bowl.
Now looking at how this spot has been used over the decades, it seems like it has been used infrequently. Despite the attempts to make this place unrideable. It made a feature in Powell’s Chaos during 1992, during the Bucky Lasek section, he is skating the steeper pipe at the beginning of the bowl, and lands a decent size ollie. It is also said to feature in an addition of Thrashers epic spots: the places you must skate before you die. From what we can gather it has always been a known spot that did gather skaters during the 80’s and 90’s and people would risk trespassing to get to skate it.
There is a bit of a legend that the indoor bowl still exists, yet this has not been confirmed. It is said that it still sits there on the property but no one has been able to ride it due to the whole property being guarded off.
Our second spot we will be taking a trip to Australia and looking at one of the first skateparks to be built in the country at the time. Apart from the Albany Snakerun that was built in 1976, Canberra in the ACT has a number of iconic skateparks that stand up as some of the earliest to be built in the country at the time.
The Charnwood Bowl / Snakerun is regarded as Australia’s second oldest skatepark. Lucky enough this skate park still exists today, even though it is a bit rough around the edges it is very rideable. The story of this park begins in 1979 and it seems like it’s always been a bit of a controversial place that has been scrutinised from the very beginning. What we have is a more shallow snakerun that is around 36 metres in length that ends in a medium size bowl around 3-5 feet deep.
With limited to no skate spots in the state at the time, the skateboarding community were trying to push for a spot that could cater for the popularity of the sport. Some residents were also onboard with this project as they were seeing that kids skateboarding on the streets was becoming unsafe. There was a clear divide in the community, with an equal split of those who were for and against the skate park development in the area.
Development of this skatepark kicked off in the August of 1979 in a small park in the suburb of Charnwood in Canberra, yet once work commenced in clearing the site, local residents put a halt on the construction by gathering enough people to sign a petition opposing the project. Apparently the NCDC or National Capital Development Commission did not make the residents aware that there would be a skatepark constructed in their area. Their main concern was the park was not big enough to fit the skatepark and the park backs right onto most of the homes in the area. Some of the people that lived in the local area, were confused why this place was chosen as there were a number of other areas with larger space that could have been more appropriate for the snakerun / bowl.
As it looks from digging into a bunch of old newspaper articles there were a few local kids that should be credited for pushing the project on the Charnwood Bowl. 20 local kids rallied together and created their own petition going against the parents opposing the park's construction. They were also backed by a number of adults in the area that were positive for this project. During late August 1979 there was a town meeting held to discuss the project, which was pushed through and work finally commenced on finishing the skateboard park during September of 1979.
Now there is some discrepancy on the date this skatepark was actually built, most sources say that it was built during 1978, yet all the newspapers found talking about the park's construction are dated in 1979, so we are going to go with what is reported in the newspaper archives for greatest accuracy.
Now gaining anymore information on how this place was used for the decades after it was constructed are pretty limited. There were modifications made to the snakerun overtime, with one of the sides having this gutter added to the top, with like these boulders or large stones moulded into the cement. It looks pretty ridiculous tbh, so not quite sure why this was done as it just makes the lip on one side of the snakerun pretty well unrideable.
Most recently the Canberra Skateboarding Associated, submitted paperwork to the Australian Government in regards to a proposed ACT skateboarding strategy, to address current and future infrastructure and maintenance needs. The Charnwood Bowl was on their list of parks that should be maintained and also expanded. There are actually quite a few old skateparks that were built in Canberra during this time. The Kambah u-pipe is another crazy spot, which was built shortly after the Charnwood bowl; this u-pipe still exists and has just been saved from being demolished. This is actually a really gnarly spot, so go and check this place out.
So based on the total lack of information and media, it looks like the Charnwood bowl was used less and less over time. There are a couple of YouTube videos of this place, which we have up on our website, yet based on its location and I guess limited space it was a spot that just fell out of use. If anyone has any further information or media from this spot, please get in contact with us. We would love to hear from you.