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Postcard shows entrance to Highland Park just west of York, PA in West Manchester Township. Trolley is at bottom center and the right side shows the lift hill of the park roller coaster. (S.H. Smith collection; postmarked May 6, 1914)

Highland Park roller coaster

A recently purchased Highland Park postcard provided the final clue amongst bits and pieces previously collected to provide specifics about the park’s roller coaster. The 1914 postcard shows a trolley at the entrance to Highland Park and also illustrations the adjacent roller coaster lift hill.

Highland Park opened in the summer of 1890. It was located just outside York City limits along the Codorus Creek in West Manchester Township. It was built by the York Street Railway Company, which operated horse drawn streetcars in the city. Two years later, the streetcars were replaced with electric trolleys.

The boundaries of Highland Park and locations of Highland Park roller coaster and a proposed Highland Inn are shown with respect to trolley route in yellow; using a present aerial view west of York and south of West York in West Manchester Township. Highland Park also included a narrow strip of land along the north side of the Codorus Creek, extending eastward all the way to Richland Avenue.

Boundaries of Highland Park and locations of Highland Park roller coaster and proposed Highland Inn are shown with respect to trolley route in yellow, in present aerial view west of York and south of West York in West Manchester Township. (2023 Google Aerial View, Annotated by S.H. Smith, 2024)

The Highland Park roller coaster was installed during the spring of 1907 and was in operation for the park’s opening day for that season on May 25th. It was a newer style “figure-8” roller coaster featuring many turns, as opposed to earlier out and back roller coaster designs with limited turns.

E. Joy Morris and John A. Miller were the notable early designers of “figure-8” style roller coasters. The still standing “Leap-the-Dips” figure-8 roller coaster within Lakemont Park, Altoona, Pa., is an E. Joy Morris design that was build by the Federal Construction Company of Philadelphia in 1902.

The Highland Park roller coaster was a John A. Miller design and was built by the Ingersoll Construction Company of Pittsburgh in 1907. John A. Miller, of Illinois, patented his figure-eight roller coaster variations with stacked track layouts containing many turns in which the track crossed over at different elevations.

Frederick Ingersoll secured the rights to manufacture roller coasters per John A. Miller’s patents. The roller coaster for Highland Park featured three stacked “figure-eight tiers, with a succession of ascending and descending grades or dips within each tier. Based upon Highland Park topography of lower and upper levels combined with bit and pieces of descriptions in newspapers the plan view of the Highland Park roller coaster likely resembled the following sketch.

Plan View of Figure-8 Roller Coaster that operated during 1907 and through 1916 seasons at Highland Park, York, Pa. (2023 Google Aerial View, Annotated by S.H. Smith, 2024)

The T. M. Hartman Company of Pittsburgh had the contract to install, maintain and operate the Highland Park roller coaster. This company owned and operated the roller coaster, paying the York Street Railway Company a percentage of the gross receipts as rental. C. M. Hart & Company of Pittsburgh acquired the T. M. Hartman Company during 1912, and continued as owner operator of the Highland Park roller coaster.

Following the 1916 season, terms could not be reached to extend the roller coaster contract. The February 27, 1917 issue of The York Gazette reported, “The roller coaster at Highland Park has been removed to Cleveland, Ohio, where its owners, C. M. Hart & Co., of Pittsburgh, will erect it at a lake resort.” On the space made vacant by the removal of the roller coaster, a merry-go-round and Ferris wheel were installed at Highland Park.

Highland Park closed following the 1920 season. On March 31, 1921, the park property was sold to Eli Z. Zinn for expansion of his quarry operations.

Highland Inn

Plans were to build a 40-room Highland Inn on a hillside overlooking Highland Park. It was to be located at the high point on an extension of Herman Avenue into West Manchester Township. That location on Herman Avenue is now about at 320 Herman Street within the housing development situated on that hillside.

John A. Dempwolf was the architect for Highland Inn. His illustration for the inn appeared in the September 16, 1893 issue of American Architect and Building News.

John A. Dempwolf illustration of Highland Inn appeared in September 16, 1893 issue of American Architect and Building News. Plans were to build this inn on a hillside overlooking Highland Park, York, Pa. (Collection of S.H. Smith)

It appears Highland Inn was never built. After I wrote about Highland Inn a decade ago, a few readers offered possibilities, however no definite details. I suppose, why it was never built will remain a mystery. Here are the John A. Dempwolf floor plans for Highland Inn.

John A. Dempwolf floor plans for Highland Inn that appeared in September 16, 1893 issue of American Architect and Building News. (Collection of S.H. Smith)

Click on this LINK for a yorkblog.com Full View of the photos and illustrations in this post.

Links to related posts:

Highlandtown School and Boys Plunge through Thin Ice

Highland Inn, 1893 by J. A. Dempwolf; Where was it located near York?

Dempwolf designed five buildings for Mahlon Haines

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