Saturday, April 25, 2020

Montgomery's Island Park - Today Milton State Park

When Milton State Park Was Montgomery's Island

The Islands (there used to be 3!)  at Milton were the first land "settled" in that area.  It's where Marcus Haul built a log house and orchard in 1770,  It was where Straubs mills were built in 1824. Homes were built there, the land was farmed there.

Until the mills  became unprofitable.  Then the island continued to be used as  farmland, but floods continually washed away parts of the bridge. By the early 1900s, farming ceased and there were now two islands, one of the smaller islands having joined the big island, making it even larger.
The Island after the 1889 Flood

After Riverside Park closed, Milton put great effort into making a new amusement park on the Island.  The land they intended for the park was owned by Mr & Mrs Bryson Montgomery, who offered the borough a very generous rental agreement. The borough would pay a nominal rental fee for up to ten years, but once they made any improvements to the grounds, the 20 acre (the entire island is 82 acres)  would then become the property of the borough.  In exchange, the island would be known as Montgomery Park.  

The Milton Recreation board immediately set to work,.  They were well aware that the large crowds who had visited Riverside Park the  past years had brought many customers to their shops.  The Milton merchants were enthusiastic about creating a new reason for people to continue spending their money in Milton.

Aerial View Of The Island, 1930

   The description in the Miltonian when it opened in 1929 makes it clear that this was nothing like the park we know today .   When the park opened in  June of 1929, it had:

  • "two cook houses, with accommodations for four big parties.  The one house has two big brick fireplaces with sheet iron tops, while the other has two cook stoves."
  • "There's an eating pavilion with substantial roof that will accommodate 200 diners, while twenty other eating tables are scattered through the shaded section, and will be popular on fair days."
  • "Fifty park benches, that have been repaired and painted do they ar like new, have been placed at strategic points"
  • "A dozen swings will delight children, along with the sliding board, see-saws, horizontal bags, merry go round, croquet lawn and other amusement providing devices, most of which have been recovered from Riverside Park, repaired and repainted so that they are as good as new."
  • "And of course there are the ice cream, hot dog, and soft drink stands to complete the picture."

This post card is labeled scene at Milton Park
I'm not certain which park, but it's  possible this was Montgomery Park.

And the plan worked.  In the first summer, there were 35 scheduled picnics, and an estimated total attendance of approximately 10,000 persons.   In addition , it was conservatively estimated that approximately 50,000 additional persons attended for picnics and other outings without scheduling a date. As the Miltonian reported, "merchants of Milton were enthusiastic over the project, because it brought more people to town and as a consequence, more money to the cash drawers of the local merchants."

Over the next few years, school picnics, church picnics, family reunions, and all sorts of events, before held at Riverside Park, now were being held on the island.

Threshing Wheat On The Island, Milton Pa

The land of the island was still divided, with deeds being held by several owners. 
In 1936 there were at least two homes still on the island. The reports after the flood
"One house remains standing on Montgomery Island,, another was wrecked against the side of the bridge" It was also noted that the grandstand in the ballpark remained standing.  (There were still residents living on the island in 1942)

At one time there was a Drive In Movie Theater on the Island, and both baseball and football games were played there.
Read more about the Drive In Movies at Milton Island, Here:

The Milton Rotary worked to get all of the deeds consolidated and transferred to the borough, and in 1966 the borough transferred the island to the state for a State Park.

Today, the Montgomery's Island is Milton State Park.

Do you remember the large stone "stage" that used to be on the Milton Island?
It was somewhere near the end of the soccer fields, if I remember correctly.  
I seem to remember there were  see saws or some sort of playground equipment on that northern edge of the island, around 1991?  If anyone has photos of those things  I could include here, I would very much appreciate it!  


Find More Of Milton's History Here

And An Index To All Of My History Tidbits Here:
July 1942
There were still homes on the Island in 1942.

In 1951, the Islands were all cleared, except for the recreation area, as part of a flood control initiative.

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