Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Rolling Green Park - The People's Playground

Before there was Knoebels in Elysburg, there was Rolling Green in Hummels Wharf.


In 1907 the trolley line from Selinsgrove to Sunbury was brand new, but lacking a destination to encourage people to ride it.  In 1908,  46 acres of land was purchased for "The People's Playground."   People would spend most of the day at the park, taking advantage of the lake and shade. 

Amusements included rides, a pool, a lake, a theater, games, bands, dances, concerts, and more.  Bingo was held regularly.  

Today, the area is a housing development - it is the land between the current day target plaza and the Susquehanna Valley Country Club, in Hummels Wharf.


A few years after the park opened, a contest was held to give the park a new name.  Mrs Charles Kissinger of Lewistown won $25 for her suggestion, Rolling Green Park.

Originally power for the park was supplied by Middle Creek Electric Co, but in 1910 a Power House, the brick building shown here, was built on site. The building also served as the trolley barn.  The white building was the park office.


Although attendance had been on the decline from the late 1930's on, it was the flood of 1972 that ended Rolling Green.  It was deemed not worth rebuilding, and the land was sold to a developer, who created the Rolling Green Development.  

Map Of Rolling Green Park

Aerial View Of Rolling Green Park showing the Crystal Pool, Lake, and Ferris Wheel

Aerial View of Rolling Green Park. Pool to the left, Lake in the middle, Ferris Wheel and "Fun House" (formerly the  theater) on the right.


Having been in operation for more than 60 years, there are a tremendous number of photos and post cards available.  I've separated them into sections by themes, below:

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Entrance
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Entrance
The Trolley Station at Rolling Green was turned into a penny arcade, and bus stop by 1937.
The Sunbury Selinsgrove Electric Railway (Trolley) went out of business in 1934.

A bus, which replaced the trolley, at Rolling Green

View From The Pavilions


Enjoying the shade at Rolling Green  - possibly watching a softball game?

Softball field to the right

Softball field

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Pavilions & Picnic Areas
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"In The Picnic Grove" at Rolling Green Park

Seven Little Lakes, Rolling Green Park

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The Lake & Swimming Pool
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In August of 1955, a 10 year old girl "narrowly escaped death in a freak accident" at the Rolling Green Park Swimming Pool.  Eunice Weiser and some friends were watching employees clean the pool when she was pushed into the pool and swept 40 feet through a 12 inch pipe.  The girl suffered two fractured legs and numerous cuts and lacerations, but was expected to make a full recovery, in Packer hospital.


 There were swings, and later a large swimming pool.  

In July of 1925, 26 year old Charles Derk had been climbing a ladder leading to the top of the diving tower when he lost his grip, and fell twenty feet, landing on the concrete walk below.
He was unconscious for half an hour.


In August of 1921, Miss Louise Boyer took her 16 month old niece to Rolling Green.  While walking along the lake, Miss Boyer left the perambulator (stroller) "unguarded" for a moment, and it rolled into the lake. The metal frame and wheels sunk into the lake, but Miss Louise Boyer plunged in and brought it to shore, then "using first aid to the drowning methods, she resuscitate the infant."
The child was the daughter of Mrs. M.E. Steffen of Selinsgrove, sister to Louise Boyer.

In November of 1915 it was discovered that the dam that kept water in the lake at Rolling Green leaked, the water having lowered considerably.  At the time, it was not certain the dam would be repaired, as "Boating on the pond has not been fruitful of many dividends on the money expended on it".


In 1941, as well as other years, the lake was used for "night ice skating" events.




The building shown in the background was the original trolley station, later converted to a penny arcade and bus station.

April 1952


On March 6 1958, three boys took a short cut home from the Monroe Consolidated School, crossing the pond at Rolling Green on their way home.  The ice was not solid, and 6 year old Ricky Gene Valentine and 9 year old Daniel Kenneth Yeager drowned before rescuers could reach them.

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The Theatre At Rolling Green
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The park had a  theatre, with a large disco ball,  which hosted a variety of well known entertainers. 

The theater was originally known as The Opera House

The Ella Kramer Company provided live entertainment in the theater from 1939-1946



View of the refreshment stand in the lower level of the theater

In 1947, the theater was converted into a Fun House.


On Saturday October 12th 1946, one man was killed and three others injured while working on the roof of the theater at Rolling Green Park.
The roof collapsed while the men were working, plunging Guy Grant Rauch 60 feet to his death.  A 5th man, Martin Fox, managed to escape injury by holding fast to a girder until he was rescued.
Those who were injured were: Ralph Fox, Clarence Shaffer, and George Gower.
The five men were remodeling the roof, making it one level, when it collapsed.  The roof had been higher in front than in the rear.
At the time of the accident, Rolling Green Park was owned by Robert Spangler, of Red Lion Pa.

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Games
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There was even a bingo hall, similar to the one at Knoebels today.



The fish pond was located on the midway near the merry go round

Inside the Arcade 


This old game from the park is for sale on an auction side for $1,600


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Rides
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The park included two roller coasters, The Skyline Coaster, and a children's coaster called Junior Speedway, in addition to a ferris wheel and a variety of other amusement park rides.

Tilt A Whirl

Giant Twister

The Merry Go Round At Rolling Green

One of the rides from the park, "The Dark Ride", was incorporated into the Haunted House at Knoebels Grove.  The Disco ball, along with several other items, ended up at the Snyder County Historical Society, where a back room has a large display showcasing the once popular park.

The "Dodgem" ride were Bumper Cars

Miniature Golf Course At Rolling Green

May 26 1961

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The Roller Coaster
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On July 7th 1946, three squeezed into a single seat on the roller coaster at Rolling Green.  When the coaster made a sharp dip and struck a curve, one of the occupants elbow struck the side of Raymond Coyle with enough force to break two ribs.


In June of 1967, six year old Irene Girton was knocked down and run over by the kiddie roller coaster.
Her injuries included a fractured pelvis, cerebral concussion, and lacerations and bruises about the face and neck. In December of 1968, her parents were suing the park for $13,000.  





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The Train
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There was even a train, similar to the Knoebels train.








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The Dance Pavilion
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The Dance Pavillion at Rolling Green opened in July of 1908.  Live bands performed several nights a week for many years.
Interior View of the Dance Pavilion





Russ Fairchilds Rhythm Kings at the Rolling Green Dance Pavilion, 1937


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Concessions
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There were a variety of food stands and concessions.


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The Trolley To Rolling Green
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The Trolley ran to Rolling Green from it's opening, until the trolley line went out of business in December of 1934.  


Trolley Car 104 at Rolling Green Park


A Trolley At Rolling Green, about 1909

The Trolley Stop and Lake At Rolling Green



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Souvenirs & Mementos
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Display At The 
Snyder County Historical Society
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Although I have visited the Snyder County Historical Society many times, it was only this past Christmas that the back room was open while I was there.  What a great display they have!  There's a full model sized reproduction of the park.



They also have the disco ball, and one of the pinball machines.


Snyder County Historical Society
30 East Market Street
Middleburg, PA

Museum Hours
May through September
Sundays, 1:30pm - 5:00pm
FREE Admission, Donations Accepted
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11 comments:

  1. On what land was this on? Neat hstory. Not originally from PA.

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  2. I was here once about 7 or 8 years old my first roller coaster ride. Hated it came off crying. Took many years before I even tried another. Don't like roller coasters.

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  3. My parents took my brothers and me there. I would go on the roller coaster with Dad while Mom took the boys on the train! Wonderful time and good memory!

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  4. I seem to remember ‘The Dark Ride’ being called Devils Den around the 70s. Also remember us winning a ton of stuff from Coca Cola back in the 70s there as it was raining that day and there weren't many people who showed up. :)

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  5. We moved into our new home and found a metal rolling green bingo sign in the attic of our garage!!!!

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  6. I (vaguely) remember riding the roller coaster; it was sad to see the park go.

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  7. The Owner/Manager, Roman Spangler, was my grandmother's brother! I have the wooden ice cream sign from Sam's Frozen Custard stand which was my grandma & grandpa's business located there. I also have a postcard display of pictures of the park and of the ice cream stand. Would you like to have them for the museum? You can contact me through this email address

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  8. Wonderful display. I was so sad when I knew they weren't going to reopen the park after the flood. When I was younger, I loved the Merry-Go-Round, in teen years, I loved the dance pavilion. Many good memories. Thanks for sharing!

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  9. In the late ‘50’s early ‘60s my Vacation Bible School from Messiah Lutheran Church in Mifflintown,Pa would go to Rolling Green Park the last day of 2 week school. Rev DeLauter had a Large Roll of tickets that he would tear off & give 20 / 25 to each “student.” As a then 6 year old & ultimately older, I have fond memories of our annual trips. It was a rite of passage to move from the mini / child coaster to the “adult” coaster. The Fun House was a hoot! The mirrors! The tumbling barrel to get out! Dodge ‘Em’s / bumper cars, tilt a whirl, and the whip were all favorites. Time was always allowed for the pool. Loved it all!

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  10. I will always remember this park as my first amusement park and riding the roller coaster with my Dad. These were the days before all of the safety belts and buckles in roller coasters, and just one iron bar that came down over your lap. I was so small that my dad placed one leg over me, and then lowered the bar to keep me in the car. We would end one ride, run down the exit ramp, and get back on the very next time around. What great memories!

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