Burros at Sacandaga Park
History Articles written originally for the Sacandaga Express – by Lorraine Decker
In the early 1900’s the Sacandaga Park would be a hub of activity due to preparing the park for visitors.
More than likely repairs to buildings from winters harshness would need to be done: maybe a hole made in the roof by a fallen branch to the enclosed carousel, or more paint on a concession stand. Stairs to the Shoot the Shoot toboggan slides and others repaired and made sound. And any rides that ran by engine power such as the roller coaster, carousel, trolley ride, and others would need to be cleaned, oiled, and safety checked.
Outside work would be plentiful. Clearing and raking pine needles and picking up dead fall branches to prepare the many pathways and gardens. The Adirondack Inn’s expansive lawns and gardens would be an important focus: along with the Old Orchard Inn and High Rock Lodge.
The Circle Cottages would need to cleaned , windows washed and opened to chase away the stale smell of winter’s closing. Private cottages like Corbett’s and others would be preparing rooms to rent and stocking food items.
The Sport Island Bridge may have been brought out from under the grandstand ready to be reassembled for another coming summer season. The Rustic Theatre would be the location where local schools would be planning their end of the year plays, and maybe even the Catholic church would have held one of their first Sunday services, depending on the weather.
The park kept many local people employed. Summer after summer they would be rehired if they proved to be hard working and capable. Some local people would start out as teenagers and still find themselves there for the summer in their later years.
Soon the burros would be led across the Sport Island Bridge where they would spend summer evenings grazing and sleeping and the days giving rides to the many visitors who would frequent the park.
There is some information about these burros in references although nothing has been found regarding where they lived in the winter. It can be assumed that they might be returned by train at the end of the season to Gloversville where they would be looked after and tended to by a railroad employee. Or maybe a local farmer might have a financial agreement with the Railroad to take care of them in the winter months closer to the Park. Whatever happened to them in winter is unknown.
Their first arrival heralded a new novelty to the park. The following information was found in references regarding them:
March 1900: The Texas Burro: His music will awake the echoes at Sacandaga Park.
The cheerful bray of the gentle Texas burro will be heard at Sacandaga Park before many weeks pass by. The arrangements of the FJ &G Railroad Co. to have ten of the patient little beasts at the park this summer for the amusement of children, as well as grown persons have been completed. Notice has been received from the company’s agent in Texas that he secured eight suitable burros and will send the animals north. The burros will be a feature of the amusements at the park, as the approaching season will be first that the resort has offered that form of entertainment, and novelty will be greatly appreciated especially by the younger portion of the parks visitors. The stocking of Deer Park will also provide another place of interest, and the bear which achieved a reputation in upsetting the theory of the annual hibernation in February will be on exhibition.
April 1900: The Little Burros
The ten little burros recently purchased in Texas by the FJ&G and C. will be used at Sacandaga Park during the summer are now in New York and it is expected that they will be taken to the park tomorrow. The animals are in splendid condition and are excellent types of that class of beasts and will probably afford much pleasure to visitors at the park who have never seen or had a ride one of these little animals.
Columnists note: A quick recap of an earlier column about the bear: It seems Ground Hog Day afforded a get together for local people to see if the bear might also come out of his den to predict the coming spring. Wagering ensued that day and the bear didn’t come out until a week later. No photos have been found in references or elsewhere of the bear.
As for the “stocking” of Deer Park: Where or how or what kind of deer the FJ&G procured is unknown, or again, where they were kept in the winter.
by Lorraine . Decker