Archive for November, 2012

I’ve Got The Power…..

Power D

Generations of families living near the Susquehanna River in Plymouth, or passing over the Carey Avenue Bridge, have grown accustom to seeing the huge smokestacks looming in the background. 

Power in the 50s

1950s (?) era picture with smokestacks in background

While the smokestacks have been dormant for many decades, and in some ways, have even changed with the times because, apparently, they now have something to do with providing cellular service, they still stand as a monument to a more powerful time—a time when humans first became God-like in their ability to provide artificial light, on a grand scale, during the darkest hours of the night.

"I've Got The Power......."
"I've Got The Power........"

In 1882, the first commercial power station opened in New York City.   Just two years later, The Wilkes-Barre Electric Company, along with Hildreth & Co. (Nanticoke), started offering service in some areas of Luzerne County.   

"I've Got The Power........”

Locally, it was primarily our West Side Communities that were the pioneers in electrical power and lighting for the area.  Nanticoke, Kingston, Wyoming, Forty Fort, Luzerne, Plymouth and Shickshinny all constructed power plants to meet the growing needs of this exciting, new industry. 

"I've Got The Power........It's gettin' it's gettin' it's gettin' kinda hectic”

“I’ve Got The Power……..It’s gettin’ it’s gettin’ it’s gettin’ kinda hectic……”

"I've Got The Power........It's gettin' it's gettin' it's gettin' kinda hectic”

Eventually, they all merged and consolidated into one big “light plant” that took over the responsibility for serving the entire area, which is what you still see standing today  at the river’s edge, on the corner of Bridge and Beade Streets.  Built in 1905, it was the fifth power plant erected in Plymouth.   

b Power

The very first power plant to operate in Plymouth opened in 1886 on Cherry Street.  During the early years of the lighting industry, commercial lighting was only furnished during “lighting hours” and only street lights were on the “moonlight”, or “all night”, schedule. I find it compelling to contemplate the notion that at one point humans had little control over darkness, and then we found a way to master the darkness by distributing artificial light. 

Abandoned Pennsylvania:  "I've Got The Power...."

"I've Got The Power........It's gettin' it's gettin' it's gettin' kinda hectic”  {EXPLORE}Can you spot the wire hanger still in place on the wall?

Today, the Plymouth Light Plant still stands, in a state of semi-abandonment.  The front portion of the building, bordering Bridge Street, is used as a rental storage facility, while the back portion of the structure remains unused.  The grounds around the back, with all of the “High Voltage” electrical service structures, make up the UGI Electrical Service Plymouth Substation. 

Power I
Power A

A big “thanks” to the Plymouth Historical Society for providing me with the information about the Plymouth Power Plant!  I was unable find anything on my own…..

Power Ghost Sign

Luzerne County Gas & Electric Corporation “ghost sign” overlooking the Susquehanna River

Power H
a Power

Power 9

Power 7

Power 6
Power 5

Power 4
Power 3
Power 2
Power J
Power F
Power B
Power C
Power E
I've Got The Power
Power G

Power 12

Smokestack as it looks from the front of the home

that belonged to my grandparents on Beade Street

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GUERRILLA HISTORY Table of Contents

 

Cheri Sundra © 2012
All Rights Reserved

And They All Came Tumbling Down

The event that I am most often asked about is the collapse of a pavilion at the (now abandoned) Croop’s Glen Amusement Park —during a baby contest, of all things! 

In April of 1917, a newspaper blurb announced that “A new picnic ground with every known amusement device is being built at Hunlock’s Creek and will be open on May 28th as Croop’s Glen”.  By the 1930s, the park became a very popular venue for civic group outings which were often publicized in the local newspaper. 

Between 1926 and 1927, two wooden roller coasters were added.

There was a full size coaster named Twister, and one Kiddie Coaster.

Both pictures  of “Twister” courtesy of the Philadelphia Toboggan Company

Roller Coaster Entrance

Photo Courtesy of Ellen Geisel

During an outing planned by the Nanticoke Unemployed League in June of 1935, as mothers were assembling on the pavilion with their children for a baby show along with observers, the floor of the pavilion, which was situated between 20 & 30 feet above the bed of Hunlock’s Creek, parted in the middle and then dropped.  A witness account described a “roar of furniture, crockery, glass and human bodies falling into the creek”.   

Croop's BAbandoned Park Picnic Tables in 2010

According to the newspaper ““The floor of the Pavilion broke in two, creating a large funnel into which tumbled men, women and screaming children, together with benches, chairs and tables and the paraphernalia   usually taken along by picnickers”.   Witnesses estimated that between 250 and 300 people were standing on the pavilion at the time of the accident. 

Dance Pavilion?  Could be…..

Photo Courtesy of Ellen Geisel

Fortunately, the sides and roof of the structure stayed intact, contributing to the fact that no one died during or after the catastrophe.   As a result of the collapse, 145 people were admitted to the hospital.  A local newspaper reported that “after the rescue work, shoes, purses, hats and bits of clothing could be seen in the wreckage, mute testimony of the horror that overtook the hundreds who were on the pavilion.”

The park was owned by B.F. Croop and the land was leased to Charles Shelly who was the park manager.  According to the newspaper, officials of the Nanticoke Unemployed League Council initially expressed belief that over-crowding caused the accident.  Complete details about the accident are available thru the Luzerne County Library System’s Sunday Independent online archives at “200 Picnickers Injured Here As Dance Pavilion Collapses”.

On July 10th, 1938, the newspaper reported that the park was being sued by 12 people for injuries sustained during the pavilion accident.  The majority were seeking $5,000 in damages, a few asked for $10,000 and the highest amounted to $15,000.  Visit “$96,000 Damages Asked by 12 for Injuries In Pavilion Crash” to see a list of the plaintiffs. 

While many people speculate that the accident and subsequent lawsuit led to the closing and abandonment of Croop’s Glen Amusement Park that does not seem to be the case.  An article from August of 1943 states:

 “Noted for years as one of the regions natural parks, Croop’s Glen this year is a complete casualty of the war effort.”

Carousel – photo by Croop’s Glen Art Studio

Photo Courtesy of Ellen Geisel

”The park has been renovated substantially since the dance hall collapse ten years ago, but the rollercoaster, whip, dodgem, merry-go-round and kiddies train, to mention the leading amusements have not turned a wheel this summer.”

Carousel

Photo Courtesy of Ellen Geisel

“They, as well as the penny arcade, refreshment and prize stands, are covered as protection from the elements.  The swimming pool, which for many years was one of the best patronized in the region, because of its mountain-fresh, ever-flowing water, has also gone to pot.”

Croop's D

Swimming Pool Remains in 2010

“It was a favorite place for basket outings and still has excellent facilities, including a large outdoor oven and scores of tables and benches if people were so inclined.”

Croop's c

Concession Stand/Picnic Grove in 2010

The article also mentions that lack of public transportation was contributing to the decline of the park.  You can access the full text of the article at “Park At Croop’s Glen Complete War Casualty” 

I was unable to find anything stating when the park officially closed, by some accounts; it remained open as a picnic spot through the mid-50s, with the dance hall serving as a skating rink. 

Croop's AAbandoned Park Picnic Grove Structure in 2010

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GUERRILLA HISTORY Table of Contents

Abandoned Pennsylvania--Lost History Found:  Croop’s Glen Amusement Park, Hunlock Creek   Cheri Sundra © 2012 All Rights Reserved

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