Lost History Found : Croop’s Glen Amusement Park, Hunlock Creek, Pennsylvania
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.
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
“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.
Thank you Ellen for making our history a little more complete!
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
GUERRILLA HISTORY Table of Contents
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