trolley parks

General discussion about fallen trolley and interurban lines in North America, past and present.

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trolley parks

Postby zz4 » Mon Oct 04, 2004 5:44 pm

I'm on a little hobby of trying to compose a big list of ex-amusement parks. (I'm not trying for a 'big list' but there were many)

It would seem most amusement parks go back to the trolley days. Some survived for decades longer and very few survive today.

The trolley companies seemed to create them. To increase ridership?

Theres little known about these places. Once they shut down they are gone and forgotten. Some that have closed in recent eras still have sort of 'fan clubs'.

Parks seemed popular in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Some were just 'parks' but some 'amusement parks' if they added some amusement rides if it be a carousel,etc.(I guess thats my definition)


To find 'old parks' often such are noted in old trolley schedules or in some literature about the trolley operation.


I'm kinda overloaded dealing with New England now. Sort of expanding into New York,New Jersey. I think Pennsylvania had oooooodles of 'amusement parks'.


Reason for post? If anybody runs accross some reference to an old trolley park let me know?


Many died with the trollies. Many died before the trollies died.


No..I'm not writing a book but thought about a website with a list of old amusement parks linking to a page with a few notes of what was known about them.


zz4a at yahoo.com (email address)
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Postby walt » Tue Oct 05, 2004 10:16 am

Most traction companies operated their own amusement ( trolley) parks at one time or another. Most of the "old" amusement parks, even those still operating in the 1960's, and some still operating ( like Hershey Park) were formerly "trolley parks". Some of these included:

Willow Grove Park ( Philadelphia- PRT- PTC predecessor-- operated until the late 1960's)
Woodside Park ( Philadelphia- Fairmount Park Transportation Co.---
closed sometime in the 1950's.)
Glen Echo Park ( DC area- Capital Transit Co.-- generally closed in the
1960's--- carousel and ampitheater still operates)
Beechwood Park ( Philadelphia & Western RR)
Castle Rocks Park ( Philadelphia & West Chester Traction Co.--Red
Arrow Lines predecessor)

Riverside Park ( Baltimore-one of a number of trolley parks in that
city)

There are many, many others. Some of the parks, like Hershey Park, Willow Grove Park, and Glen Echo Park, actually lasted longer than the streetcar lines which served them. Generally, trolley parks were built as far away from the central city as was possible, requiring a long ride on the streetcars of the park's owners. I remember noticing at Willow Grove Park in the 1960's that all of the rides were controlled by former streetcar controllers, and that tickets collected were registered on old streetcar fare registers.

Keep in mind that most of those parks were established in the late 19th-early 20th Century-- before the advent of air conditioning, and even before the advent of the motion picture. Riding a trolley through the "country" at relatively high speeds with the windows open( and many companies even employed open cars for this service) and spending an afternoon or evening at the traction company's amusement park was a prime way to cool off on hot summer days.
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Trolley parks

Postby eddiebear » Tue Oct 05, 2004 12:20 pm

The subject is well documented, however sometimes a locally produced commerical or PBS TV program kind of embellishes the parks, the trolleys and the people.
There's a whole softcover book on trolley parks in the Boston area. Can't remember the title, however.
Well established summer communities usually had parks long before there were trolleys. Most of them had some kind of summer diversion, usually serious things like a summer theatre, shady walkways and picnic grounds. When the electric age came along amusement type parks were usually constructed by newcomers (sometimes trolley companies to boost riding) in other nearby locales. While the park rides which generated whoops and screams were regarded as quite low class, the established parks built dance halls, beer gardens and set up amusements to compete.

Within a radius of 100 mile of Boston, the following trolley parks were built by the trolley companies.

Mountain Park, Holyoke, Holyoke St. Ry. including incline railway to top of mountain.
Whalom Park, Leominster, Fitchburg & Leominster St. Ry. Closed just a few years ago. Disposed of by F & L ages ago.
Canobie Lake Park, Salem, NH, Massachusetts Northeastern St. Ry. Still in business. Sold about 1930 to non trolley interests.
Norumbega Park, Auburndale, MA., Middlesex & Boston St. Ry. Closed about 1960. Marriott Hotel on site.
Lexington Park, Lexington, MA, also M & B. Long gone.

There were also these parks: Pine Island Park in Manchester, NH,
Hampton Beach, NH, Lincoln Park in Dartmouth, MA, White City Park in Shrewsbury, MA. Don't know if they were established by trolley companies or were independent.

Huge amusement parks were built at Nantasket and Revere Beaches in Massachusetts, Old Orchard Beach in Maine and Rocky Point in Rhode Island, but people were summering in those places decades before the trolley came along.

Look around. There's a lot on the subject.
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Postby walt » Tue Oct 05, 2004 1:13 pm

Just about any traction history, whether it is an overview of the subject itself ( ie Middleton's "Traction Trilogy") or a history of a single company, will mention at least one park.
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Postby Ken W2KB » Tue Oct 05, 2004 1:46 pm

At the far south end of the PSCNJ Greenville line, 1st Street in Bayonne, NJ was an amusement park. It closed somewhere around 1970, long after the trolley (1938) and the ferry to Staten Island (1961 or so). To my knowledge it was not affiliated with PS, but simply took advantage of the ferry and trolley line, and the Kill Von Kull waterway.
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Trolley Parks

Postby Ralph D Kautz » Tue Oct 05, 2004 5:04 pm

In the Western Pennsylvania West Penn Railways Had the following Parks,Oakford (between Jennette Pa and Greensburgh Pa.Rainbow Gardens,Rt148 White Oak Pa. near Mckeesport,Olypmia in Mckeesport Pa. Pittsburgh Railways had West Park ,Luna Park and Kennywood(still Operating Today).Also the Mellon Family had as a destination for their Ligoner Valley Railroad Idewild Park in Ligoner(still Operating).All the other parks are gone.Oakford Park Is a housing development,and Rainbow Gradens is now the Raibow Gardens Shopping Center.Hope this Helps Dan
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thanks all.....

Postby zz4 » Wed Oct 06, 2004 9:48 am

Thanks for the replies.



I was web surfing one day and ran accross this site.


http://www.defunctparks.com/misc/textindex.htm


I thought it was interesting. It looks like the editor sort of stopped a couple years ago. I think theres a whole lot of Pennsylvania listings.


I looked at New England and saw the 'lists' and thought it was a little 'lacking'.


I asked myself why not make a website myself. Takes a whole lot of time and kinda fun.


I just started figuring out where parks were and trying to find something about each one. All I have now is a scratchpad of notes--most not entered to any web page yet.

Considering theres usually nothing on the web about them it takes some time and research. Probably something about most in a local town library,etc.

Just some notes..location...maybe lucky to find some old photo's-postcards?

I hate to leave an url of 'a 'sratchpad' but thats about all I have so far. Also considering I edit html manually little by little it takes time for a web page to look like a web page.


I'm in Connecticut so naturally I've been chasing New England.---but as to 'lists of known parks' why not journey to other states?


Yes. I find late 1800's,early 1900's PARKS seemed popular and its hard to figure out which ones might meet some amusement park classification. Did they ever have a carousel,ferris wheel,roller coaster,etc?

If someone had a big master list of sales of the above it would be a miracle but I don't think any list still exists. Philadelphia Toboggan Company (I can't spell that) a list of their Carousels survives I think. i.e. PTC#12 was located at _____then to______etc.



On the defunct park site theres errors and some places I can't find anything about. The Pit-Boston?


I think in 2004 most all parks are GONE. Theres been many closures just in recent years. Theres still Canobie Lake in New Hampshire. In Connecticut theres 2 and think they were old trolley parks. Lake Compounce-Bristol and Lake Quassy-Woodbury? Massachusetts I think they are all gone except SIX FLAGS which is ex-Riverside Park-Springfield,Agawam.

I'm not sure whats left in Salisbury Beach,Ma. but a remnant of past days. York Beach,Maine? I think they have some small operation still going.


An interesting site is Carousels of New England. (punch into search engine) Some old Carousel photo's.



As to Boston area did I see some reference to a book?


well-well---this is a rr-trolley messageboard but as mentioned many many of these old parks began as trolley parks.



http://www.defunctparks.com/misc/textindex.htm


http://freepages.history.rootsweb.com/~ ... /park.html


(scratchpad of notes)
zz4
 

Postby walt » Wed Oct 06, 2004 10:21 am

What you have today is the modern "Theme Park" which has some elements of the old trolley parks ( roller coasters, etc) but which has no trolley origin, and is really a different animal. Hershey Park was actually converted into a theme park sometime in the 1970's.
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Postby Leo Sullivan » Wed Oct 06, 2004 11:29 am

The most numerous type of park belonging to trolley companies was not amusement parks but what would today be called a leisure park or even a picnic round. Only about one in ten was grand enough to have a Carousel ('Merry-go round' in New England) and, there were few enough roller coasters that most can be named without a list. McGraws list usually mentions parks owned by street railways but, doesn't say anything about their size (Willow Grove, PRT's park, gets one line as does Lakeview Park in Massachusetts. big difference in facilities). If you count them all, it would be quite a list, particularly if there was useful notation about size and survival.
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Postby Aa3rt » Sat Nov 20, 2004 10:11 pm

Hi, I don't know how I've managed to miss this thread for so long, but one park that I visited in my youth, and is still operational, is Midway Park, in Maple Springs, north of Jamestown, Chautauqua County, New York. Midway started as a park in 1898 on the route of the Jamestown & Lake Erie Railway with a dance pavillion, dining room and a beach for bathing. The railroad went through a couple of reorganizations and emerged as the Jamestown, Westfield and North Western in 1913, electrifying in 1914. The JW&NW (known locally as "Jesus Wept & No Wonder") ended electrified passenger operations in the fall of 1947 with dieselized freight service finally terminating in January 1950. The park still operates however.

Here are links to the Midway Park site:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midway_State_Park

and a brief history of the JW&NW:

http://wnyrails.org/railroads/jwnw/jwn_home.htm

The home page for Midway Park states "Midway Park has been owned and operated by the Walsh family since 1951 and is one of only 12 remaining "Trolley Parks" left in the United States".

There is a mailing address, phone and fax numbers on the home page so you may be able to contact them and find out where the other 11 are.
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trolley parks.....

Postby zz4 » Sun Nov 21, 2004 4:56 am

Thanks on the Midway Park one.


I just started snooping New York as this might show




http://freepages.history.rootsweb.com/~ ... wyork.html


Its all still just a big scratchpad of notes. Only interest is a list of known parks and a link with maybe a little info and maybe a old picture if one can be found.


I know I'm missing many many.


Often theres nothing to be found.(as to a park)


Like Barre,Vermont? Possibly in a local library there,etc.


That 'defunctparks' site has a good list of Pennsylvania but thats the site that gave me the uuumph to think about one myself. The info there is much dis-info and non-info and wrong info.


I started including any operating park of today because there are so few left.


I don't think I'm off-topic here because most all these things started with 'trolley parks'.


Midway #12? he-he...I saw somewhere else something about 11 left.


I realize many were just 'picnic grounds',etc. Roller Coasters rare and just the larger parks but as to Carousels I seem to find mention of merry-go-round at many-most....


Just a hobby project. Things go slow. (and manually edit html,etc.?)


Then next ya know people will be screaming about copyright. All I know is I'm not selling anything. (i.e. scream..remove it...)
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Postby Aa3rt » Sun Nov 21, 2004 2:31 pm

This topic seems to have piqued my curiosity-I checked your link, also remember going to Celeron Park in Ellicott once when I was very young. (Closing date is listed as 1962-I was 9 at the time.) This park, on the western side of Chautauqua Lake was served by the Chautauqua Traction Company until its (Chautauqua Traction's) demise.

I found a website for the NAPHA (National Amusement Park Historical Association) at: http://www.napha.org

A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page lists 12 operating trolley parks which began operation between 1879 and 1908, the oldest being Sea Breeze Park in Rochester, NY. The link is:

http://www.napha.org/faq.html

Finally, a note about Coney Island-PBS presented a program a number of years ago on Coney Island. The three major parks (amusements of various types contained in one park) were:

Dreamland 1904-1911
Luna Park 1903-1946
Steeplechase 1895-1964

In 1884, the first "Switchback Railway", the first roller coaster made its appearance at Coney Island. Numerous railroads served Coney Island in the 1800's, it wasn't until 1920 that a subway connection from Manhattan to Coney Island was completed.

For a link to the PBS Coney Island site,try:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/coney/timeline/index.html

Finally, for more information on New York City railroads, subways, trolleys and amusement parks, try Kevin Walsh's excellent website at:

http://www.forgotten-ny.com
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trolley parks

Postby zz4 » Sun Nov 21, 2004 5:46 pm

Again...thanks for post.

Interesting.

I must stress any info from me such as a website is only 'in construction' status and all facts/figures might not be correct.

I've mostly been trying to create a list first and then when names/locations known one can research from there.


Its difficult often to choose what can be called an 'amusement park' or was it just a picnic table,etc??


Even parks in urban areas PROBABLY at one time had some 'amusements' there but never classified as any amusement park.

Even today they have these carnivals and 'things' in towns,counties,etc. and they cart in some equipment and move it out in a few days.

Soooo...was there ever a merry-go-round in _______ in 1901? Who knows unless you see notes to such in some old reference.


I'm finding some of these OLD parks were not trolley but created by actual railroad.


I'm still lacking a big reference book as to trolley's. Somebody mentioned McGraws? Whats that?

Without a name and town its hard to snoop.


I was just trying to put together a list of New York this last week. The site you mentioned above about New York City I found interesting. ==BUT I always have enjoyed oddball obsolete abandoned lost stuff,etc.


Cony Island I guess was complex. The major parks over time but I'm sure there were 'lesser' parks that popped up on Coney Island over time.

A good source of parks might be sales lists of roller coasters and carousels. Seems none exist except some of the old carousels seem to carry some history baggage with them. Was at----moved here---now----


As to info on the web its nice to be able to just snatch everything but got everybody screaming copyright stuff. Many people with a commercial website selling something want to own all information and have it go no furthur.

At least for non-commercial,non-profit,educational there are 'FAIR USE' clauses in copyright law of which people selling things never want to admit.


Its totally aok to use 'excerpts' of others works and 'no permission needed'. (despite all the fancy language seen on many web pages)


I've asked asked elsewhere about copyright and say writing a book. If its a historical book the whole thing is from SOURCES. People spend years getting material from other peoples works and then if they see it sprout up elsewhere--- I OWN IT !!!!!!!


So as to web sites and history about all you can do is snoop sources just like writing a book. Try to give credits. Ask and often permission granted such as images.(hehe...of which is probably not theirs to begin with..)

Somebody screams remove something if scream legit.


Gotta run.



Without really looking I think I found another park in New York today---Sacandaga in Gloversville...


http://carogatimes.com/chappell/sacan_9.htm



I've gotta start researching old trolley stuff. If I recall some maps the Mid-West had endless trolley lines?


Theres been allot of interesting sites on the web and many vanish. I guess often some people ask WHY PAY TO PUT INFO ON THE WEB?


Free Hosting is a joke these days.(free..somebody pays for it)

Ads to drive anybody nuts.


That Rootsweb place was once 'free unlimited to everybody'. Now its 'free to who knows who' and the ads get worse by the week. Next week probably 'pay or get out'.


I'm not selling anything here but

http://www.1and1.com/ (big outfit) seems reliable and $5 a month for 1000mb and good bandwidth.

Gotta edit everything via FTP.


Theres oodles of photo sites on web with many still free. Some a page can look like a web page with much text added and its own url.



I've talked too much....
zz4
 

Postby Aa3rt » Sun Nov 21, 2004 8:59 pm

zz4-wish I could be of more help. I've never heard of McGraw's either-hopefully one of our more enlightened readers can help.

I have an Official Guide of the Railways from 1946 which lists a huge number of railroads. When you consider the number of trolley lines that existed in this country, some for VERY short durations (which means they probably weren't well documented) this would be a task of monumental proportions! (Especially when you consider the number of "paper" railroads and trolley companies that never laid a rail.)

I'd like to see a list of just trolley companies from western New York and Pennsylvania where I grew up but wouldn't know where to start.

Good luck in your endeavor!
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Postby MikeF » Sun Dec 05, 2004 10:21 pm

Aa3rt wrote:I'd like to see a list of just trolley companies from western New York and Pennsylvania where I grew up but wouldn't know where to start.


Pick up a copy of "The Electric Interurban Railways in America" (George W. Hilton and John F. Due, Stanford University Press, 1960 and 2000, ISBN 0-8047-4014-3). In addition to a 200-page overview of the interurban era, the book has short descriptions of, as the title implies, all the electric interurban railways in America, grouped by state.
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