trolley parks

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

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Postby JimBoylan » Sat Jun 03, 2006 11:30 pm

Aa3rt wrote:In 1884, the first "Switchback Railway", the first roller coaster made its appearance at Coney Island.
To split a very old hair, the Mauch Chunk, Summit Hill & Switchback Rwy. to Jim Thorpe, Pa. lost its freight business in 1870 to the Lehigh & New England RR's Lansford-Hauto Tunnel. It spent the next 60 years until the Depression hauling passengers for their pleasure and amusement, and was not scrapped until 1937. It was the first railroad in the country to be surveyed with a transit (in 1819), but track laying didn't start until almost 10 years later. It did compete with, and got distant customers from, the East Penn Rwys., a much longer trolley line. The local Mauch Chunk trolley line, later part of EPRy., had Flag Staff Mountain Park, a dance hall, picnic, and scenic view kind which is still in existence.
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Trolley Parks: Some possibly useful resource material

Postby Jerry N3AA » Tue Aug 01, 2006 10:14 am

I discovered this site and topic while researching the Washington, DC trolley route(s) my fiancé Bev used (as a kid) to travel from her home in upper NW Wahington to Glen Echo Park (which is along the Potomac River palisades just west of the DC/MD border). The DC trolley lines from long ago disappeared in 1962 by Congressional mandate and agreement with O. Roy Chalk, who bought the lines after a mishandled strike situation in the 1950s.

Bev's interest and passion, and now mine, are the antique carousels whose heydays coincided with those of the trolley parks, of which Glen Echo was one example. Glen Echo is no longer a full-fledged amusement park, as its only ride is, I believe, the fully restored 1921 Dentzel carousel with its magnificent military band organ. This carousel is the only one owned by the US Government. The park, itself, is vibrant and alive--there are dances, activities for children, arts events, etc.

However, most trolley parks (including the one in Atlanta, GA when I was a kid--Lakewood Park--had carousels and there is a very active organization regarding those rides, the National Carousel Association (NCA). It's website is http://nca-usa.org/

The NCA website has much useful info tailored, of course, to carousel interests. However, there is a census of the roughly 150 remaining operating carousels in North America and many of them are at what used to be trolley parks. You can search by state or other characteristics or produce the entire list. This could help those of you who are trying to pinpoint some details of the old trolley parks.

One park I didn't see mentioned in this forum is Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH, which is a large and active park. I am not sure, but I think this may also have been a trolley park. Cedar Point claims to have more roller coasters than any park in the world, but, from my own viewpoint, they have three historic carousels.

I hope this is of interest.
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Postby pennsy » Tue Aug 01, 2006 11:36 am

Hi Jerry,

Your chat about carousels reminded me of a rather unusual carousel that once was in Hawthorne, CA. It was in what is now a shopping center, enclosed, and had TWO decks. That is right, you could ride the carousel both upstairs and downstairs. No longer there, but the kids loved it. I must admit it was a great carousel.
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Trolley Parks: Some possibly useful resources (follow-up)

Postby Jerry N3AA » Tue Aug 01, 2006 2:22 pm

ALAN,

There are at least two double-deckers which the NCA reports to be still operating:

Columbia at Paramount's Great America, Santa Clara, CA. It was active in 2004 (last report date) and was built in 1974 and is still in its original location, so it isn't the one you described.

Columbia Carousel at Six Flags Great America, Gurnee, IL. Similar to above, but built in 1976.

Carnival Heritage Center, Kinsley, KS has a Hyen Double Deck machine that was in restoration in 2002. It apparently was built in 1900, had been in storage in FL for a while, but most of its history is unknown.

I didn't see anything about the machine you mentioned on the NCA website--sorry for that. There may be some experts in the NCA who might know something about it if you wish me to pursue it.

I hope this didn't stray too far off topic!
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Postby wigwagfan » Sun Oct 29, 2006 1:34 am

In Portland, Oregon, there is the Oaks Amusement Park (which is still open to this day) which began as a trolley park. In fact, many maps - including the Thomas Guides for Portland - still show the old trolley loop in existance, although it has been long removed. But the former trolley line is now the Oregon Pacific (a.k.a. East Portland Traction Company) Railroad, and there is a "rails with trails" trail alongside it. Periodically one can ride a train on the route, including the SP #4449 and SP&S #700. For a few years there was a regularly scheduled excursion train, but that is long gone.

Besides the carnival midway, the merry-go-round and the skate pavilion, there are several large picnicing areas and a beach on the Willamette River. For the little railfan, there is also a park railroad that loops from the midway around one of the picnic areas, and along the trail that overlooks the river.
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wow...

Postby zz4 » Wed Jan 24, 2007 5:18 am

I've been away from this thread and never realized there were any replies of recent era.


I took up the hobby of trying to audit old Amusement Parks (I think I'm repeating myself) and it's a very time consuming ordeal.


There is a good website..defunct amusement parks...


BUT it looks like the author took a vacation or ? a long time ago and it appears as it was an ongoing project....


I tried to start my own site but it's a VERY SLOW project.



I started including all Amusement Parks..Theme Parks... So few are left so?


I also have an attraction to the Carousels. Most were discarded as trash and often horses just sold off. (if anybody wanted them) Of recent times the old ones have become antiques worth a fortune.


I guess anybody can buy a new Carousel. A million or so?




BUT in trolley days seems they all had to have their 'parks' and often there's nothing left as to records. (pictures or anything)



The BIGGER ones get remembered.



I'd suspect most urban area parks at some year in time had some 'amusements' such as a Carousel. Even Roller Coasters were built and moved moved moved.



As to Theme Park audits I dread the thought of Florida/California.



Thanks for that Shopping Center info. I'll bookmark it.




A few shopping malls add Carousels of modern origins.




The carnival still remains popular as a TEMPORARY for town/county fairs but nobody can audit that stuff. Some have interesting Carousels though. Many non-attractive all metal who-knows-what.



This forum is for Railroads,etc. so I'll cease talking.


If anybody has any Carousel,park info it's always welcome.
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oops...

Postby zz4 » Wed Jan 24, 2007 5:24 am

Railroad related?


I forgot those little park trains. I'm trying to audit/index them also.




I know VERY LITTLE about that subject or nothing???



They seemed to be part of any Amusement Park of past decades but don't think so in the Trolley days.(?)


I don't know if anybody makes them anymore. Places will buy a new Carousel but a miniature train? It must be a whole science in itself.


Garden Railroads?
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Postby umtrr-author » Wed Jan 24, 2007 10:12 am

I don't recall seeing this thread before so I'll add some on- and off- topic data points.

I knew the amusement park in Bayonne, NJ way down by the Bayonne Bridge as "Uncle Miltie's". I think that was an official name at least for a while. This was in the late 1960's so no trolleys left at that point. My uncle who took me when I was a child there just passed away yesterday.

Here in the Rochester NY area, a family owned park called Sea Breeze remains in operation. I know that there was a trolley line that operated to there and also to the shoreline of Lake Ontario.

Also in Rochester, the Charlotte (shar-LOT) beach area was served by the New York Central which built a park there and also by at least one trolley. A trolley line paralleled the Lake Ontario shore from there to the northwest (it happens to run in that direction for a few miles as opposed to straight west).

I am sure that trolley lines served the legendary Palisades Amusement Park in Fort Lee, New Jersey which was "my" park while growing up. There is a book, a website and a video documentary about this park; it's probably one of the most famous and best documented of all parks. Is it strictly a "trolley park"? Well... maybe not. But it also had a kid's sized railroad if I recall correctly. BTW, the carousel from there still exists; it's in "Wonderland" near Toronto and someday I will go there for one more ride.
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Trolley Parks: Some possibly useful resources (follow-up)

Postby Jerry N3AA » Wed Jan 24, 2007 10:35 am

We've been to SeaBreeze and to the other carousel equipped park in Rochester--Ontario Beach (which, I believe, was also a trolley park).

You can find a searchable census of all known working carousels in North America on the website of the National Carousel Association at

http://www.nca-usa.org/NCAcensus.html.

You can find more on old amusement parks at the following:

http://history.amusement-parks.com/amusementparkhistory.htm

http://cec.chebucto.org/Midway/TimePort.html

http://www.funguide.com/

http://napha.org/nnn/
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Postby umtrr-author » Wed Jan 24, 2007 2:53 pm

Ontario Beach and Charlotte are the same... my bad, Charlotte is the neighborhood and Ontario Beach is the proper name of the park.

There are several different books that show the various incarnations of Ontario Beach Park and the transportation in and out of it. At one time, the NYC owned the park and ran excursions there which included admission. Other guests-- arriving by trolley, for example-- had to pay admission, a high board fence helped enforce that policy.

The "Images of America" series of books covers our area pretty well.
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Postby zz4 » Wed Jan 24, 2007 5:00 pm

I'm no expert on this subject but====



I think much old Amusement Park information was in a 'trade' publication BILLBOARD.



I think in some prior decade BILLBOARD changed their publication theme to what it is now.




I've been away from my genealogy hobby so been loosing my snooping abilities (a good hobby to learn snooping) and where-o-where if anywhere would be old copies of this publication?
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Postby Jerry N3AA » Sat Jan 27, 2007 10:17 am

Actually, you have a very good memory. After a Google search for "billboard magazine history", I found the "Billboard.com - Billboard History" web page at:

http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/about_us/bbhistory.jsp

The magazine was founded in the late 1800s for the "bill posting" business, meaning, I think, the handbills advertising various events one still sees stuck to telephone poles, walls, and fences. By 1902, the magazine had changed: The first two pages still covered bill posting, 14 pages covered departments like Stage Gossips, Tent Troopers and Street Fairs And Carnivals. It continued to adapt to the changing entertainment scene of movies and music over the years.

The history occupies six pages on the web--it's very interesting reading, but too much to say more about here--visit the website above to check it out.
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Postby zz4 » Sat Jan 27, 2007 8:02 pm

I'm too old to have a good memory and too young to remember the 'old days'.(whatever they might be)


I just recall seeing Billboard mentioned as a trade publication of some type as to amusement industry. I don't know.



I am sure there WERE publications.



As to where any might sit on microfilm unknown.
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Postby CarterB » Sun Jan 28, 2007 12:30 pm

Whether it qualifies as a strict 'trolley park' or not, KiddyLand at the State Fairgrounds in Birmingham, AL was certainly served by BE up until the mid 1950's at least.
Bring back the Slumbercoaches!!
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Postby mtuandrew » Tue Feb 20, 2007 3:16 am

Hi, I just joined this site, and when I noticed this thread I had to comment.

I'm a history major at Michigan Tech University, and have done some pretty extensive research on at least one trolley park. Electric Park (yes, an unoriginal name) outside Calumet in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan sits abandoned now, but was a thriving picnic ground, dance hall and host for circuses and chautauquas through the first 30 years of the last century.

If you'd like, I have a report on my website about Electric Park. Click HERE to read it - it's a PDF.
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