Archive for September, 2011

***NEW UPDATES for: “Lost History Found : Croop’s Glen Amusement Park, Hunlock Creek, Pennsylvania”

Since my last post about “Lost History” at Croop’s Glen, an abandoned amusement park located on Route 11 right outside of Nanticoke Pennsylvania, two more people have contacted me to share information about this long abandoned amusement park!

Photo memorabilia donated by Frank Regulski, courtesy of Sheila M. Brandon

Sheila M. Brandon of Sweet Valley, Pennsylvania, used to maintain a history website that contained information about Croop’s Glen and pictures of the Hunlock Creek Train Station.  She very graciously sent me pictures and information from her now defunct web site, which covered topics from Lower Luzerne County, to use for this blog.

From Sheila’s information, I’ve learned that the structure that you first encounter when you look over the guard rail and into the park, used to be a ticket booth.  It’s interesting to view the changes that have occurred over a relatively short period of time to this structure, thanks to the ravages of time and Mother Nature.

“Ticket Booth” courtesy of Sheila M. Brandon

Again After Recent Flood on September 17, 2011–My own photo

Part of Croop’s Glen’s success was the fact that it was located across the street from the Hunlock Creek Train Station.   From the copy used for Sheila’s webpage:

 “The rolling thunder of the approaching train was heard as it neared the station at Hunlock Creek, bringing visitors from all over, coming to enjoy a warm summer day at the glen…the sounds of children’s laughter could be heard echoing through the trees.. the warm babbling brook sang ever so sweetly, inviting the visitor to come take a swim.. the smell of popcorn and cotton candy filled the air.. beautiful melodies played under the dance pavilion as the adults danced the night away.”

“Hunlock Creek Train Station” courtesy of Sheila M. Brandon

Hunlock Creek Train Station ruins today courtesy of Ed Mountjoy

“The glen opened in 1908 or 1909, adjacent to the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad Station. During its earliest years, the park was primarily used for church outings, family reunions and school picnics. In a deed filed at the Luzerne County Courthouse, the parcel of land is described as follows; briefly, a parcel of land containing a two-story frame hotel building (a\k\a- Hunlock Creek Hotel), containing 16 rooms, barn, stone icehouse, dancing pavilion and two refreshment stands. The icehouse, which was located next to the hotel, has been described as the following; it was two stories high, the bottom floor had 3 to 4 feet of sawdust on the floor. Ice was cut from the river and kept all summer in the icehouse. It was still used in the 1920’s.”

Photo of Joseph Virtue in front of Icehouse courtesy of Sheila M. Brandon

Photo of Croop’s Glen postcard donated by Frank Regulski, courtesy of Sheila M. Brandon

Croop’s Glen Amusement Park Map courtesy of Sheila M. Brandon

In addition to the rides, the park had a swimming pool, bathhouses, a penny arcade, two refreshment stands, pony rides and two dance pavilions.  The dance pavilion located near the park entrance was elevated so that cars could park underneath it. 

Croop’s Victrola Sign courtesy of Sheila M. Brandon

From Sheila’s webpage copy:

“The First of its kind in Northeastern Pennsylvania, afternoon & evening,” would greet visitors as they entered the glen. Famous orchestras from the big band era, including the Dorsey brothers, Fred Waring, and Hugo Winterhalter played there on a regular basis. The park boasted having the first nickelodeon during its first few years of operation. After the glen had closed, in later years the dance pavilion was used as a skating rink until it was destroyed in a devastating fire. All of the modern and expensive equipment was lost in the fire. It was stated that two children sparked the fire one winter after the park had closed.”

The smaller dance pavilion was also used for picnics and contained a coin-operated piano and coin amusement devices.  The structure also served as the entrance to the roller coaster. 

“Croop’s Coaster View” courtesy of Sheila M. Brandon

The Hunlock Creek Hotel was purchased from the Croop’s by the Hartman family.  The website quoted Mary Hartman recalling the following memories of the glen:

“The Hunlock Creek Hotel catered picnics at the glen, including some for the power plant and the Retreat employee picnics. My brother and I took the supplies to the park with our ponies and spring wagon. If I remember correctly, Bess Croop’s family operated the concession stand for several seasons. My best memory of the glen, was one day after school, we discovered the electricity had been left on in the Merry-Go-Round pavilion at the park, and we got the rides running full blast. We had a ball until someone on Falls Hill heard the music.”

The park had something called a “wiggle pole” for the young visitors which was essentially a horizontal, telephone pole sized wooden shaft with one loose end that would wiggle when walked upon. 

Croop’s Glen postcard photo donated by Frank Regulski, courtesy of Sheila M. Brandon

The webpage cited gas rationing, which was imposed nationally after the bombing of Peal Harbor in 1941, as the reason for visitors no longer visiting the park in the same way that they could in the past.  After the park was closed, according to the site, Stanley Croop used the property as a saw mill. 

Croop’s Sawmill courtesy of Sheila M. Brandon

Sawmill Remains courtesy of Sheila M. Brandon

Sheila also sent pictures of the park’s rollercoaster.  I’m waiting for permission from the Philadelphia Toboggan Company to post the pictures. 

Thank you so much for sharing your pictures and information, Sheila!

I’ve forwarded the information from Sheila to The Luzerne County Historical Society and The Plymouth Historical Society.  I did not include all of the information or photos about the park in this post.  If you want to learn more about Croop’s Glen, you’ll just have to visit one of the historical societies!  Sheila also sent information pertaining to the Hunlock Township World War II Veteran’s Memorial.

Miniature replica of Croop’s Glen sign created for a fundraiser to replace World War II Memorial courtesy of Sheila M. Brandon

Croop’s Sign ruins on September 17, 2011–my own photo

A person who graciously wanted to share a first-hand account of her time spent at Croop’s Glen is Lucille Weaver from West Nanticoke.  Lucille’s daughter contacted me with the following recollections that her mother has about visiting the amusement park:  

“Croop’s Glen was the place to go ‘back then.’ School and/or class picnics were held there, that’s where her class went. There was the Maypole, merry go round, the whip, dance hall, a carousel and others.  The Maypole seems to stand out in her memory the most and ‘The Whip” came in second 🙂 The dance hall was alongside of the merry go round or she said, maybe ‘a part’ of it somehow. The carousel had a ‘music box’ that began playing when the carousel started turning…Apparently the ‘Maypole’ was somewhere near the entrance…Since we were talking on the phone, she could not see the ‘now photosof Croop’s Glen, but I described, a long room that reminded me of the inside of a covered bridge and she said that was the dance hall !!! In another photo there was a picnic table and next to that was a long green table (I said to her, I would love to have THAT table!” and mom said it sounded to her like that might have been where they sat & played Bingo. According to mom, when Croop’s Glen was open for business, it was the biggest thing at the time and that is where everyone went. If you grew up there during that time, you KNEW of Croop’s Glen!!!!  I really enjoyed listening to my mom talk about Croop’s Glen because it was obvious that was one of her very happy memories when she was growing up.  I didn’t know that until today. Instead of our average 45 minute morning phone call, we talked for almost 2 hours! LOL”

Thanks to Lucille and her daughter for sharing such fond memories!

If anyone else has more information that can help to complete the picture about the time spent by one of Luzerne County’s fading generations at Croop’s Glen, please contact me!

Miniature replica of Hunlock Creek Train Station created for a fundraiser to replace World War II Memorial courtesy of Sheila M. Brandon

Hunlock Creek Train Station courtesy of Sheila M. Brandon

Hunlock Creek Train Station ruins (ticket window) today courtesy of Ed Mountjoy

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It was Jennifer O’Malia who introduced me to the concept of Urban Exploration

Style Photography in 2010.  Jenn, who has the unique vision of a

social documentarian, is now offering her services as a freelance photographer.

 Photo by Jennifer O’Malia 

Jenn Wedding

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Lost History Found : Croop’s Glen Amusement Park, Hunlock Creek, Pennsylvania

 

Croop's Glen, Route 11, Just outside of Nanticoke

Croop’s Glen, Route 11, just outside of Nanticoke, PA

Sometimes, history gets lost.  And I don’t mean long ago, far away history like those places or events that are ancient, but the history of less than a hundred years ago, right outside your own front door.   History, like the generation of people who share an experience or memory, begins to fade away if people don’t document and share it.

I first became aware of this fact while looking for information about an abandoned zoo  in my own hometown in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.  The Kirby Park Zoo  (1932-1936)  was wiped out by the flood of 1936.  Now a little less than 80 years later, all that I can find about this local attraction are little bits and pieces of conflicting and incomplete information.

The generation of people who would have visited the Kirby Park  Zoo as children is quickly dwindling in numbers, and unless someone happens to come across photos while cleaning out a deceased relative’s house and decides to donate them to one of the local Historical Societies, I fear that the Kirby Park Zoo and its Olmsted Brother designed bridal/walking path that wound through that area of the park just a few decades ago, will fade away as part of Luzerne County’s lost history.

Luckily for another Luzerne County attraction, Ellen Geisel of Honey Brook, Pennsylvania, has generously come forward to share pictures that will save Croop’s Glen, a long abandoned amusement park along Route 11 in Hunlock Creek, from the threat of fading into oblivion.

Abandoned Pennsylvania: Croop's Glen (24), Luzerne County, Route 11
I first became aware of Croop’s Glen  last spring.   I was amazed to look down into the little valley where the park is situated to see remains of buildings being swallowed up by time and Mother Nature.  In a quest discover more about the park, I first went to Defunct Parks.com and found a few lines of information along with three pictures of a rollercoaster.

Next, I visited both the Plymouth Historical Society and the Luzerne County Historical Society and found very little additional information in their collections—a newspaper article about the collapse of a pavilion on the property during a picnic and some pictures of members of the Croop family standing next to a car.  Neither organization had ever received any pictures of the park to add to their resources.

I know it seems hard to believe that an amusement park that closed during the ‘40s because of WWII, but was used for the picnic grounds (possibly, and dance hall until early 1950’s), didn’t seem to have one image available less than 70 years later.

All of that changed when I found the following comment on my blog post about abandoned
Croop’s Glen:

“Would you like some pictures from the park from 1912 to about 1930? A relative of mine just passed away at the age of 99. Her father owned the the rides at Croop’s Glen while B. Frank Croop owned the park. My relative used to sell tickets at the park as a teenager. I also have
photos of her as a baby in 1912 sitting on a carousel horse. Please let me know how I can post them for you.”

The following information and pictures were sent to me from Ellen Geisel:

“I was so excited to find these pictures. I have all the originals and all but one is an old original. The one looks like it was a photo of a photo and I do not know where it came from. I also found out that Charles Shelley built the roller coaster and the Shoot-the-Chute at Harvey’s Lake. see http://harveyslake.org/stories/amusements/story_picnicgrounds_02.htm. Enjoy! ”–Ellen

Croop 1 – My cousin Jean (2nd from left) and some friends in front of the Pop Corn stand (Croop’s Glen)

Croop 2 – carousel – photo by Croop’s Glen Art Studio (Croop’s Glen)

Croop 3 – My cousin Jean selling tickets (Croop’s Glen)

Croop 4 – My cousin Jean as a baby on a carousel horse

A little history. Charles Shelley apparently worked at Harvey’s Lake and built the roller coaster and Shoot-the-Chute. They opened in 1910. He then married Luella Britton (not sure of the exact date). My cousin, Jean was born in March 1912. In 1913, Luella died giving birth to Jean’s little brother (the baby also died). Charles, not knowing how to raise a toddler daughter, hired a live in housekeeper/nanny to help raise Jean. Charles then hooked up with B. Frank Croop and they opened Croop’s Glen and stayed there until it closed in 1940?. Charles Shelley died in 1941 and I think B. Frank Croop died in the next year or two. I know Jean told me she used to sell tickets at the park and worked there as a teenager. Several years ago, we took
her to Knoebel’s and she rode the merry-go-round. She died this past July at the age of 99”–Ellen

Croop 6 – Charles Shelley (Croop’s Glen)

Croop 7 – Jean and Charles Shelley at Harvey’s Lake

Croop 8 – Jean and Charles

Croop 9 – The Whip (Note:  Ellen does not know if this is Croop’s Glen or Harvey’s Lake)

Croop 10 – Jean and unknown man at Harvey’s Lake

Croop 12 – Charles Shelley (Croop’s Glen)

 

 

Croop 13- dance hall? Not sure (Croop’s Glen)

Croop 15 – 4 men working on mechanics of a ride. I think Charles Shelley may be the one
kneeling on the left. This is the photo of a photo and I do not know where it came from. (Could be Croop’s Glen or Harvey’s Lake)

Croop16 – roller coaster. I believe Charles Shelley is pictured in the center looking up (Croop’s Glen)

Croop 50- carousel – Again Charles is in the center looking at the camera.

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Thank you Ellen for making our history a little more complete!

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More Recent Pictures From Croop’s Glen

&

Baby Contest Pavilion Collapse at Croop’s Glen

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It was Jennifer O’Malia who introduced me to the concept of Urban Exploration

Style Photography in 2010.  Jenn, who has the unique vision of a

social documentarian, is now offering her services as a freelance photographer.

 Photo by Jennifer O’Malia 

Jenn Wedding

Return To

GUERRILLA HISTORY Table of Contents

or

click right HERE for more Croops Glen Updates!

 

 

Angela Park: An American Eulogy

The abandoned amusement park of your childhood memories is where I decided to stop one day. ”Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry” were the lyrics  I was singing on my way to the long rotting carcass that was once the local amusement venue known as “The Playground of Northeastern Pennsylvania “.  A hollowness hung in the air as I pulled up to the field primarily containing weeds and busted up concrete, where the remains of Northeast PA memories of happier times lay abandoned, desolate and for the most part, dejected.

So Bye-Bye Miss American Pie

How the residents loved Angela Park! Just read any number of the accounts by local historians and reporters to learn the facts about the rise and decline of this once popular roadside attraction that reads like a sadly typical American eulogy to lost community, prosperity, and small town life.

I’m not really concerned about our agreed upon history about this specific park. I feel that way about many of the places I explore, much to the bewilderment of many local history buffs. I’m always interested in something different than facts about a long gone past. I’m concerned about the history of “just yesterday” and “now”.

I think that we often forget that history evolves, and while we can’t change the past, we can choose how to shape our present and future history. History is a verb, or it can be if we choose to make it into one. And how we choose to interpret events as they occur, often tells us unspoken truths about ourselves and society at that moment in time, if we care enough to listen.

This Used to Be My Playground

Standing at the park entrance, I longed to hear the clatter of the wooden roller coaster followed by happy shrieks as the cars crest and swoosh. I would have loved to see the electric sparkle on the ceiling of the bumper car pavilion and to catch a whiff of the mixture of greasy French fries, cotton candy, diesel fuel, and chlorine in the air. That’s the stuff memories are made of!

I could still smell that scent of pine that you would experience every time you rode the train near the picnic grove. But as far as I could tell, that was the only recognizable trait left from my memory of Angela Park since the burning charcoal and the picnickers left long ago.

I’ve visited abandoned places to photograph them before, but none that had been a part of my childhood experience. It really mattered to me that I’d been there to ride the Tilt-A-Whirl and Carousel. I have fond memories of what seemed like a cutting edge arcade during the pre—Wii and XBOX era. Angela Park was a fun place to spend a day with family or friends that we all had easy access to, back when we had a real sense of shared community. During those times, small towns across the nation had local amusement parks to go to during a simpler era when even the annual broadcasts of the Wizard of Oz or Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory were popular shared cultural events among millions of households with children.

As I stand there and look out at this amusement park from my childhood memories, it looks back at me, all neglected and ugly. Being there felt unsettling because all I could see was what wasn’t there anymore. Then I realized that this place still had life. Maybe not necessarily pleasant signs of life—but life just the same. It was hard to tell if that rustle in the weeds was a snake, a rat, or maybe a cute little bunny retreating as I moved closer.

People still come to the ruins of Angela Park as evidenced by the makeshift skateboard park which they’ve built, like good little recyclers, by re-purposing the abandoned pieces of lumber and wide concrete pads where concessions, games or rides once stood. At least the things the last community left behind are being used by others to try to construct some sense of community for themselves.

Somehow, abandoned places always take on a sometimes infinite number of second lives. Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, an abandoned jail turned museum, has an artist installation paying homage to this concept called The Ghost Cats which represents a testimony to survival as it calls attention to the lives of a colony of cats that took over the building for 28 years after it was abandoned as a jail in 1971.

Recorded accounts of Angela Park’s first attempt at second life, during the 1990’s and into the early part of the new millennium, are portrayed as a Twilight Zone-esque creepy-carnival-nightmare-come-true with descriptions of graffiti covered buildings where local “Goths” would hang out and frighten the local community with their drawings of six-pointed stars and drug references, potentially holding astral-crossing seances—whatever that means! This was also the time of national panic about school children who dressed in black like the “The Trench Coat Mafia” at Columbine High School, with communities full of the kind of fear-mongering that led to the sort of witch hunt that resulted in the hasty conviction and imprisonment of the now free West Memphis Three.

But that was also a different era in our recent history, before the proliferation of Ritalin, before schools were required to offer Emotional Support in the classroom and before bands like Green Day  articulated the newly evolving teenage angst of millions of Jesus of Suburbia  -types living in their soul-sucking cul-de-sacs across the nation. This was the time prior to the national frenzy of worshiping the tragically cursed souls of vampire boys who sparkle, before the culture of the undead became fashionable, and before “Goth” became a label for kids who were usually intellectual in nature and prone to artistic divergences outside of mainstream culture.

It was during this era that Angela Park became a local monument to vandalism and indifference, full of “Big City” type graffiti—which was scary to small town minds because they didn’t know what it all meant. This was prior to graffiti becoming recognized as a legitimate form of art with museums and art galleries  featuring graffiti exhibits and Paloma Picasso  designing her graffiti inspired jewelry for Tiffany & Co.  According to reports prior to demolition, the arcade at Angela Park was supposedly the most graffiti covered structure of all, a fitting and cool tribute for an abandoned arcade. Those hometown graffiti artists deserve applause for a job well done.

Given the lack of understanding by the community at that time about the kids who hung out at the discarded park, and the fact that all good things must eventually come to an end, the remaining structures at Angela Park were razed. Sadly, a new, more organized purpose has yet to be realized on the property.

Second Life After Abandonment

In a perfect world, I’d like to think that communities have the insight and resources to listen to what abandoned locations are telling them about potential uses for the future. In the case of Angela Park, the obvious answer would be to turn it into a legitimate skate park. But since the prohibitive cost of insurance was a major contributing factor to the decline of the amusement park, it is unlikely that a skate park could ever be realized at the location due to the high cost of liability.

It would be wonderful if someone would redevelop the location as another community-centric space with a progressive twist such as a simple public graffiti park. It would be easy to plant some flowers, put up some benches and build a huge wall for the purpose of allowing local graffiti artists to showcase their craft. Graffiti happens, usually in inconvenient places. Why not create legitimate places for it? It could become a constantly changing art exhibit for the community, by the community, and the wall could be repainted or cleaned off at regular intervals (like the graffiti wall in front of Graceland) so that there is always room for more artwork on a regular basis. Just like history, art can also be a verb and has the power to bring communities together. In this current era of America’s post-industrial decline, communities are left with too many abandoned places, few resources for development and a complete lack of imagination when it comes to ideas for new uses for these spaces.

But whatever happens to the site of Angela Park in the future, the property, just like the community surrounding it, will constantly continue to change. As it stands now, Angela Park’s once proud Olympic size swimming pool holds trees instead of water, and the parking lot is well on its way to being eventually swallowed by the plants that have forced their way through cracks in the concrete. When humans fail to act, Mother Nature always reclaims her ground with the help of Father Time as he wears away the structural integrity of the objects that people leave behind.

angela-5

For an update about the Park’s Ferris Wheel, click here:

Cheri Sundra

The Obligatory History of Angela Park

Angela Park opened during the summer of 1957 on Route 309 in Butler Township, just north of Hazleton, Pennsylvania. The amusement park started with only six rides which included a junior style wooden roller coaster built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company. Throughout the years, a Paratrooper, Swinging Ship, Carousel, Spiral Slide, Scrambler, Ferris Wheel, Antique Cars, Tilt-A-Whirl, The Giant Slide, The Sky Ride, Tea Cups, an assortment of Kiddie Rides, The Swingin’ Gym, four refreshment stands, Porky the Paper Eater (an interactive pig-shaped trash receptacle that vacuumed paper through his mouth and told kids not to litter), several souvenir stands, a stage, an arcade, athletic fields, miniature golf, picnic facilities, and an Olympic size pool with changing facilities, lounge chair and diving boards helped the park earn the title the “Playground of Northeastern Pennsylvania”.

In 1985 the Barletta Family (the park was named after family matriarch Angela) sold the park to the Mirth Master Corporation, based in Downington, because the younger members of the family were not interested in operating the park. Less than three years later, Mirth Master filed for bankruptcy. The park closed after the 1988 season.

Several attempts to reopen the park failed. One attempt was led by Dr. Robert Childs of Hazleton, who hoped the park could continue as a nonprofit organization. Sadly, the park was put on the auction block in March of 1990 and the rides were auctioned off.

The structures at the park fell into disrepair and were vandalized after the park closed. The location was used for several years in the late 1990s as a training facility for the Lackawanna Junior College Police Training program.

In 2004, all remaining structures were demolished. All that remains at the location today are a few concrete footers, crumbling pavement, and a swimming pool filled with dirt and plant life. According to Wikipedia, the land is currently owned by New Land Development of Lackawanna County. Fishing is permitted on the property by courtesy of the landowner.

***All nostalgic images of Angela Park were captured by photographing a brochure from the collection of the Luzerne County Historical Society

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