02Jan

Sacandaga Parks Sport Island

In Spring 1889 after the fire which burned 111 of the privately owned cottages, the FJ&G went to work on the vision of an Amusement park. Adding 750 acres to the project. Rebuilding cottages to lease or rent adding water and sewer and electric to them. They replaced the railroad platform with an actual train station (the first of two) which included a post office. The venture was named “The Adirondack Amusement Company.” Many local people were employed during construction of the project and local lumber company’s boomed with the business.

Upon arrival at the park by one of the steam engines, imagine your picnic basket laden with whatever your favorite food items might be. Departing the station, it was a short walk to the picnic grounds that had seating for 900 people. The grounds around you are beautifully landscaped with rustic bridges, ponds, and lovers lanes. The smell of the pines. And maybe E. W. Prouty’s playing on the lawn at the Adirondack Inn.

A stroll through the Midway must have been blend of enlivening sights and sounds. Ladies in their long dresses. Children shouting and racing to get to the next game or ride. Men in suits with straw boater or derby hats standing together in groups. The music of the carousel. The smell of popcorn and peanuts roasting. Maybe an occasional barkers voice filled the air to “Step right this way!”

One might want to stop at the ice cream concession where a freshly baked waffle ice cream cone shell was griddled then quickly rolled into a cone shape with a scoops of ice cream and served warm. Or try a new confection called “Fairy Floss” which later was renamed Cotton Candy. Maybe a walk through House of Fun with it’s un-level floors and crooked mirrors ending with a big blast of air from underneath. Or stop at the palmistry booth to see what the future might hold.

At the time the park also had what was called an electric theatre and where you could watch a silent movie. Another electrically operated ride was Hales Touring Train car. Bought in 1907 and used as a ride to simulate a ride in the countryside. With offset weights on both sides it rocked back and forth by an electric motor as scenery on large revolving rolls passed by the windows. The ride was 10 cents for adults and 5 cents for children.

The carousel with it’s 44 elaborately carved wood animals, mostly consisted of horses, but if you were quick you could also ride a tiger or lion as there were a few of these. This was an ornate steam powered ride with a separate building for the motor. Rain or shine it could operate as it was enclosed in it’s own building. It also had and organ music accompaniment. And if that was to big for some of the little ones there was also a smaller merry-go round.

A figure eight rollercoaster was called Dip the Dips a thrill ride for everyone. A fire in the spring 1918 burned the existing roller coaster and part of the midway, but was quickly rebuilt before the opening summer season. The rollercoaster was located where the Sport Island pub and Park Association beach is currently.

An enclosed roller skating rink provided couples and singles alike with a place to glide across the floor with an opportunity to hold hands or pick each other up off the floor after a fall. Another venue to meet or take someone special the enclosed dance pavilion. Used both in the day and at night, the dance pavilion provided a place to socialize and fill your dance card that were so popular in that day.
Riding the burros was a favorite attraction for the young. There was a track for smaller children to ride around or the older more adventurous set could ride up the hill to High Rock were an entire view of the valley could be enjoyed. Most of the summer jobs were held by students on vacation with the exception of the rollercoaster, steam powered carousel, miniature train, and the burros. Those jobs required a little more expertise.

Visitors could buy souvenirs of all kinds inscribed with “Sacandaga Park NY” to remember their trip. Most ceramic souvenirs were made by the Wheelock Company in Germany. Images of places in the park like the Inn , boating scenes, rides, and the entrance were applied to plates, teacups, toothpick holders, drinking glasses, and many other items Some stayed in keeping with the Adirondack design of wood. Others were made of glass with etching .

Postcards were available by the hundreds of images to send home or keep as a reminder of time spent at the resort. Felt pennants were another favorite.
The Mann Brothers Photo Gallery could also provide a more personal souvenir. A tintype photo of your time spent at Sacandaga Park.

by Lorraine Frasier

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