Dover Township’s Brookside Park last remaining York-area trolley park. But people remember Cold Springs
Mount Wolf/Manchester-area residents enjoy an old photograph of Cold Springs Park taken in the days when the old trolley park operated in that area of York County in the 1920s. Cold Springs was one of three trolley parks that operated in the York area. (See additional York (Pa.) Daily Record/Sunday News photo of one of the old trolley cars that carried park-goers to Cold Springs below.) Also of interest: Trolley ran both ways between Manchester and Mount Wolf and ‘Teapot Dome’ back in York’s Continental Square: ‘It’s the historical significance of it’ and Trolleys helped make York’s Avenues sought-after locale.
A nationally distributed list of trolley parks still operating left off Dover Township’s Brookside Park.
Actually, the AP report looked at still-operating amusement parks with their assortment of merry-go-rounds and roller coaster.
The carousel building stands at Brookside as a reminder of its trolley park days, but it otherwise operates today as a quiet township park, sans rides.
Still, it’s the last remaining York-area trolley, or electric park, constructed by trolley companies in the first 30 years of the 20th century to boast ridership on weekends and other non-peak times. Cold Springs near Manchester and Highland Park in West Manchester Township were two others.
Check out the list of remaining electric parks plus excerpts from The Associated Press story (7/25/10):
This trolley car operated around York County and was located not far from Cold Springs Park. It has been rehabbed and is operating in Huntingdon County today.
Before Disneyland and Six Flags, before steel coasters went 50 mph and rides were named for cartoons, movies and superheroes, there were trolley parks.
The parks were built by trolley companies at the end of the line in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as a way to get workers and their families to ride streetcars and railways on weekends.
They had carousels, picnic grounds and live entertainment, and often they were located near lakes, rivers or beaches where visitors could take a boat ride or swim.
By 1919, just after World War I, there were 1,000 amusement parks around the country, and most of them were trolley parks, according to Jim Futrell, historian for the National Amusement Park Historical Association. But as cars replaced trolleys, the streetcars and their parks faded away.
With a couple of exceptions, most of the surviving trolley parks are smaller, more family-oriented and substantially cheaper than big modern theme parks with high-speed 20-story roller coasters.
Four of the 11 trolley parks still in operation are in Pennsylvania. Futrell says the parks are a holdover from the state’s manufacturing era, when trolleys transported workers to factories and companies used the parks for annual picnics. Pennsylvania missed out when more modern theme parks were built elsewhere, so locals kept patronizing the older parks.
As with most other trolley parks, Futrell said, Pennsylvania’s parks owe their existence to family owners who bought them decades ago.
“These family owners cared and shepherded the parks through challenges and were smart enough not to get in trouble with debt, and they kept the parks relevant to the communities,” Futrell said. “It was more than a business to them; it was a family heirloom.”
Futrell said he’s optimistic about the future of the remaining trolley parks.
“They’re all in good markets and they’ve all been growing over the past few decades,” he said. “You never know what will happen, but I can’t imagine any of these parks going away.”
If you go
CAMDEN PARK: Huntington, W.Va., www.camdenpark.com
CANOBIE LAKE PARK: Salem, N.H., www.canobie.com
CLEMENTON PARK AND SPLASH WORLD: Clementon, N.J., www.clementonpark.com
DORNEY PARK: Allentown, Pa., www.dorneypark.com
KENNYWOOD: West Mifflin, Pa., www.kennywood.com
LAKEMONT PARK: Altoona, Pa., www.lakemontparkfun.com
MIDWAY STATE PARK: Maple Springs, N.Y., http://bit.ly/9ZH48q
OAKS AMUSEMENT PARK: Portland, Ore., http://oakspark.com
QUASSY AMUSEMENT PARK: Middlebury, Conn., www.quassy.com
SEABREEZE AMUSEMENT PARK: Rochester, N.Y., www.seabreeze.com
WALDAMEER & WATER WORLD: Erie, Pa., www.waldameer.com