trolley parks

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

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Postby CarterB » Mon Dec 06, 2004 1:54 pm

There were dozens of 'trolley parks' in the Midwest also.
Some that come to mind:
Broad Ripple Park and the State Fairgrounds - Indianapolis
Homer Park Homer, IL - IllTraction.
State Fairgrounds - Kiddyland - Birmingham AL - Birmingham Electric

I believe there were several also in Colorado.

Here is a good reference article:

http://www.quassy.com/about_press_detail.asp?id=33


Quassy Amusement Park A Survivor Among ‘Trolley Parks’

12/6/2002


MIDDLEBURY, Conn. – They were referred to as “trolley parks” during their heyday nearly a century ago. The entire family, along with a picnic basket packed with goodies for the day, would hop aboard an electrically-driven trolley and leisurely ride the rails to the outskirts of town for an enjoyable day at the park – the “trolley park.”

There were more than 1,000 of these parks in the United States prior to The Great Depression of 1929. Some were simply a picnic grove with an athletic field and swimming area.

Others were full-fledged amusement parks with a variety of rides, games, dance halls and roller skating rinks. The rail companies built many of the parks themselves, usually at one end of a rail line, to generate passenger traffic on the weekends.

Today there are only 11 “trolley parks” still operating in the nation and Quassy Amusement Park on Lake Quassapaug here is one of them.
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Postby Aa3rt » Mon Dec 06, 2004 8:15 pm

MikeF-Thanks for the tip-will have to check this out.
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Trolley parks

Postby Ralph D Kautz » Sun Dec 12, 2004 11:49 am

If anyone is interested just type in Dave's Electric Railroads on your computer.This will take you to the site and the owner has trolley and interurbans listed by State and Company with Pictures.Some of these pictures show trolley parks and the lines that served them. Dan
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Re: Trolley parks

Postby MikeF » Sun Dec 12, 2004 12:00 pm

Ralph D Kautz wrote:If anyone is interested just type in Dave's Electric Railroads on your computer.


The address, for those who don't want to search, is www.davesrailpix.com. It is an excellent site, arguably the most extensive collection of electric railroad pictures in one place on the Web.
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Kingston

Postby n2xjk » Thu Dec 16, 2004 5:53 pm

The trolley/railroad/boat park still exists in Kingston NY. During its heyday, there was a steam boat pier (the "Dayliner"), railroad station (Ulster & Delaware RR) and trolley depot (Kingston Consolidated RR) adjacent to each other in what is now called Rotary Park at Kingston Point. The park had a carousel, bandstand, casino, dance hall. Pictures of how it looks now are at the attached link, 2nd and 3rd picture in particular on this page. The 3rd picture shows the original trolley depot, the only original structure remaining from 80-120 years ago. http://www.tmny.org/rtp4.html

The Trolley Museum of New York now operates from Downtown Kingston to the former location of the U&D station.
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Postby Urban D Kaye » Thu Dec 16, 2004 6:08 pm

I've come across a few of these trolley parks in my travels... Walt already mentioned Woodside Park... near Ford Rd in Philly. The abandoned trolley ROW is still visible in the woods of Fairmount Park off Conshohocken State Rd.

Another in PA was Island Park in Easton. The park was located on an island in the Lehigh River and was ravaged several times by floods. I believe a bridge support still exists in the river, marking the place where the trolley once crossed. Back in the 1970s, an Easton resident compiled a book of local photos, at least one of which features the trolley to Island Park.

As has been mentioned, the trolley companies frequently contrived amusement parks to give riders a reason to use the trolley line, and in the late 1800s and early 1900s, these parks were successful in generating revenue, and gave city dwellers a welcome day in the 'country'.

-Urban
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Postby 56-57 » Thu Feb 24, 2005 4:33 pm

Dorney Park (and Wildwater Kingdom nowadays) is a trolley park turned theme park. started by the Allentown and Reading Traction Co. and still in business by allentown pa.

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Postby walt » Fri Feb 25, 2005 4:56 pm

Urban D Kaye wrote:I've come across a few of these trolley parks in my travels... Walt already mentioned Woodside Park... near Ford Rd in Philly. The abandoned trolley ROW is still visible in the woods of Fairmount Park off Conshohocken State Rd.

-Urban


One interesting note about this trolley company. The Fairmount Park Transit Company was the only Philadelphia traction company which was never merged into the PRT ( Philadelphia Rapid Transit Co.) or its sucessor the PTC ( Philadelphia Transportation Co.). It was also one of the few companies which began and ended service using the same fleet of cars.
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Postby william powers » Thu Apr 14, 2005 1:15 pm

Fontain Ferry park was at the southwest edge of Louisville and the banks of the Ohio River for generations before its sudden closure and demise in 1969 during a time of riots and racial tension in this area. They originally tapped into the Louisville Railway's DC current at the end of the line, apparently without Louisville Railways consent. Our famous roller coaster The Comet.. Louisville actually had a colorful streetcar history from time of the Southern Exposition thru 1947. Sadly both "Fountain Ferry" and Louisville Railway are gone with few traces.. whp
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Postby mb41 » Tue Jul 12, 2005 7:55 am

Norumbega Park

Built by the Commonwealth Avenue Street Railway Company ( location of Newton Marriott Hotel junction I-90 & I-95) 1903 became property of Newton Street Railway, 1909 became property of the Middlesex & Boston Street Railway. 1937 sold to a private owner. 1930 last trolleys served Norumbega on the wonderful center island Commonwealth ave route from Lake Street (now BC) BERY/MTA/MBTA station. In 1937 the new owner thought of tearing the park down to build a new home for the Boston Braves, this might have promted new streetcar service. The park closed in 1963 and the Tottem Pole Ball Room closed 1964. ABC/NBC broadcasted from Tottem Pole.

Lexington Park

Built by the Lexington & Boston Street Railway Company, located on Bedford Street on the Lexington/Bedford town line. 1912 became property of Middlesex & Boston Street Railway. After WWI 1919 M & B lost much business with two parks due to people being sad over losses of life to the war. They decided to close Lexington Park and not Norumbega.
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Midway Park, Chautauqua County update

Postby Aa3rt » Thu Oct 27, 2005 8:20 pm

This thread has been somewhat "dormant" over the last few months so I thought some new information would give it a much needed bump.

I'd mentioned Midway Park in Maple Springs (near Jamestown) in Chautauqua County in a couple of previous posts. Currently the park is threatened with development. Seems that some "entrepreneurs" want to purchase the park and build...surprise, surprise...condominiums, restricting even more access to Chautauqua Lake to area residents. Fortunately some local people recognize the history of the park, as well as the need for public access to the lake, and there is a move afoot to make Miday Park a state park. (Sorry, I can't be more specific, I got this information second hand. Hopefully someone who lives in the area can supply more details.)

Last weekend, I made a trip to my boyhood home, about 12 miles south of Chautauqua Lake. While I was there I found a brochure at my parent's house with the history of Midway Park. I'l spare you folks most of the details but will provide some history as it relates to the history of the park and the railroad(s) that served it.

1894-The name Midway originated when a new steamboat dock was built between Point Whiteside and Maple Springs. The docks at both points were abandoned and the new dock became known as "Midway".

1898-Midway Park is the name chosen for the picnic grounds of the Jamestown and Lake Erie Railway. They have leased 17 acres-12 wooded and 5 cleared-above Whiteside and nearly opposite Chautauqua Institution. There is 500 feet of lake front and a sandy beach for bathing. A dance pavillion and dining room are being built. There are plans for a ballground, tennis courts, bath houses, and a fleet of row boats.

August 1898- Round trip tickets on the Jamestown & Lake Erie Railway from Jamestown or Mayville to Midway Park - 25 cents; from Dewittville or Bemis Point - 20 cents.

Jan. 3, 1899 Jamestown and Chautauqua Railway Co. is incorporated. It was reorganized from the Jamestown and Lake Erie Railway.

Mar. 18, 1907 The railroad company has secured control of the steamboats and has leased Long Point for their picnic grounds. They plan to build a new pier at Midway Park.

Nov. 8, 1913 Jamestown & Chautauqua Railway Company is purchased by A. N. & S. B. Broadhead. This includes the Chautauqua Steamboat Co. The company is renamed Jamestown, Westfield & North Western Railroad Company which became known more familiarly as the "J. W."

1914 Tracks are electrified to Mayville and the JW&NW started carrying passengers to Midway Park. The running time via the JW to Jamestown is about 28 minutes compared to about two hours by boat. Many people take the steamboats to the park in the morning and ride the JW home at night.

May 1934 Thomas Carr of Rochester is leasing Midway Park from the JW&NW Railroad. Present buildings will be redecorated and the park will be known as The "New" Midway Park. Mr. Carr was formerly manager of Celeron. (Another amusement park across the lake.)

April 17, 1939 Announcement is made of the outright purchase of Midway Park from the JW&NW RR & the Chautauqua Lake Navigation Co. by Thomas Carr of Rochester.

(The JW&NW ceases passenger service in 1949.)

Mar. 1, 1951 Midway Park is purchased by Martin "Red" Walsh from the estate of Thomas Carr.

Oct. 1984 Midway Park is now run by a second generation of the Walsh family.

It will be interesting to see if the park ends up preserved by the State of New York or if the big money will win out. Growing up in the late 1950's and 1960's, many company picnics were held at Midway and it was a popular spot. I haven't lived in the area for almost 27 years now, so am unsure of the popularity of the park in recent decades.
Last edited by Aa3rt on Tue Jan 31, 2006 9:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Another update...

Postby Aa3rt » Sun Jan 29, 2006 9:51 pm

I just stumbled across this site last night-here's a link to a site about Celoron Park, on the western side of Lake Chautauqua (NY), built by the Jamestown Street Railway. This park was dismantled in 1962 when I was 9 years old-I remember going there once when I was very young.

http://www.jamestowntrolley.com/topics/celoron/idexcl1.htm
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Postby NHRR WTBY » Sun Jan 29, 2006 11:23 pm

Quassy park in Middlebury (NOT Woodbury) CT was the only amusement park I knew as a kid. The CR&L (Connecticut Railway and Lighting) trolley from Waterbury passed Lake Quassapaug on it's way to the Woodbury turn-around at the bottom of Ben Sherman hill. Quassy was built on the south shore of the lake.

It boasted a Merry-Go-Round with hand-carved horses (I still remember the Wurlitzer music maker and the "Injun Room" sign on the door) , a shooting gallery, roller-coaster (The Wild Mouse) and several other rides. But for those of us who grew up around Quassy, we remember it best as the site of the best clam bake pavilion in southern CT. My dad worked for Southern New England Telephone and my mom worked for American Brass. Every summer, the companies would each hold a clam bake for employees and families at Quassy. Circling the pavilion and large open field was a scale model railroad, complete with tunnel, crossing gate and gasoline-powered locomotive. We would ride on the rides while the adults made the clam bake. Then after eating we played games in the field and took rides on the train. On a hot day, a swim in the lake helped us cool off. As a kid, it didn't get any better than that!

Quassy is still there, but much has changed. The Merry-Go-Round was dismantled years ago because of insurance concerns, and one by one the other rides close up. Some things can only truly live in our memories.
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Postby vector_one75 » Thu Feb 02, 2006 1:37 am

Back in the 1960's when I lived in New York, I had occasion to visit relatives and friends in the Jim Thorpe, Tamaqua, Maizevile, Shenandoah area, and sometimes we'd go to dance at a dance pavillion at Flagstaff Park overloking Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania (the "Switzerland of America").

The trolley line was long gone by then, but as I understand the park was originally set up by the trolley line (sorry don't know the details). It was not an amusement or theme park as such, but a very nice picnic and scenic outlook park on Flagstaff Mountain overlooking the town of Jim Thorpe (originally "Mauch Chunk") which included the dance pavillion. The trolley line right-of-way eventually became the access roud up to the park after trolley service ended, and as I recall (at the time, 45 years ago!), it was quite a steep and rough "1.75 lane" road in 2 directions with no gurardrails, and I would not be surprised to find out that more than a few imbibed party-makers wound up meeting their maker going home after a ball. There was a lot to be said for riding up to Flagstaff Ballroom for for a night "over the town" by using the trolley while it was still there!

Sincerely,

Vytautas B. Radzivanas
Perth, Western Australia
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Postby pennsy » Fri May 26, 2006 10:37 am

Hi All,

Nice to see that there are many places where you can still enjoy riding a trolley from circa the first half of the 20th century.

Let me add to the list OERM. Orange Empire RR Museum. This is also a trolley park, and has a nice long loop around the property which is dual gauge. You can ride narrow gauge trolleys, Los Angeles Railway (LARY) types, Huntington cars, etc. And on the standard gauge tracks you can ride the old Big Reds, the Blimps as well. If you are ever in Southern California, at or near Perris, CA. OERM should be on your Must Visit list. You can also check out their website and see some really good photographs of the place and equipment available. Nice large collection of Electric Buses as well.
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