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

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

 

 

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  1. That’s a very interesting story! It seems a shame that the Glen “went to pot.” It must have been quite a nice little park. I’m guessing from that article that there must have been trolleys that ran out there at one time? Why would they have stopped during WWII? Fuel shortages?

    • ellen geisel
    • November 12th, 2012

    Hi Cheri.  Wow!  I had no idea about this accident.  No-one in the family mentioned this.  Can you please tell me how I can print out these articles?  I can’t seem to get them to print right on my computer.  Thanks.  Ellen Geisel

    ________________________________

    • Hello Ellen,

      Nice to hear from you again!

      Unfortunately, the old Sunday Independent papers are digitally scanned like a picture, so they aren’t really designed to print like regular document pages ….

      I just called the library to see if they had any suggestions for you. I was told that when you use the Pennsylvania Digital Repository, if you print a page, it prints what is visible on your screen ….and printing one of the newspaper pages takes about 6-9 copier pages.

      The librarian suggested that you could also try enlarging the portion of the page with the article that you want using the “+” icon on the left and the arrows to move to the text that you want….and then right click your mouse to copy what you see on the screen & then paste it into a Word document until you get all of the text that you want from within an article. But that’s not going to give you a “clean” article because you’re still going to have pieces of other articles included with the copied text.

      Sorry I don’t have a better answer…I guess this is the downside to the digital age!

      If anyone out there has any other suggestions, please let us know!

    • Mary Virtue Hartman
    • November 13th, 2012

    I grew up across the road from Croop’s Glen,spent my childhood there,I think it closed around when WW II started but it remained a play ground for all the local children and a Lover’s Lane for adults.The layout is still vivid in my mind.Thank you for all your stories about that region.

      • Diane Ginanni
      • August 25th, 2016

      Hi Mary. My mom is Maureen Beckley. Did you know her?

    • karen patterson
    • June 10th, 2013

    i recall my grandmother telling me about the collapse of the building and that the lawsuit is what eventually closed the park down. She had said the amount of money put the park under

    • Anonymous
    • February 17th, 2016

    I remember my father saying he was there when the dance hall collapsed he worked there at that time they lived in the house up on the hill at that time.

    • Anonymous
    • February 17th, 2016

    My Father worked there when he was a young man ,he said he was there when the dance hall went down he often talked of Croops Glen.

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