Saturday, April 18, 2020

Riverside Park, The Park The Trolley Built Between Milton & Watsontown.

Like Rolling Green Park in Hummels Wharf, Riverside Park between Milton and Watsontown was built by a trolley company.  It was common for trolley lines to build parks as an attraction to encourage local residents to ride the trolley.   The Lewisburg, Milton & Watsontown Trolley had formed in 1898.  A historical marker at Lincoln park in Milton states that Riverside Park opened the same year, but local newspapers report of it's opening nearly twelve years later, in 1910.  It's possible the grounds were used in 1898, but  the amusements were not added until 1910.  

Located at the former site of the Boone Mill, later Fort Boone, Today this area is the Fort Boone Campground, between Watsontown and Milton.

"On Saturday May 28th, Riverside Park, a modern fairyland of high class amusement for both young and old, will be thrown open to the public.  Situated on the bank of the picturesque Susquehanna, in an ideal spot, surrounded by magnificent natural scenery and only a ten-minute ride from the heart of the city, with excellent trolley service."
The Lewisburg Journal, April 22 1910

A lady sits on a bench across from the ticket booth at the entrance to the park.  

 Admission to the park itself was free, but admission to various attractions at the park sometimes required a fee. No money was accepted at any attraction in the park, everything was to be paid for in tickets.  Tickets were 5 cents each and could be purchased at two different booths in the park.  The tickets did not expire, and could be used for anything at the park that required a fee - from concessions, to the dance floor.  The price of admission to the dance floor was 25 cents a couple, 10 cents for "ladies without escorts".

Diehls Bakery Truck is off to the left in the background of this photo at Riverside Park.

Riverside Park Opened May 28th 1910, after a week of poor weather.

Lionel Legare's Mammoth Spiral Tower had two shows a day for the first week of the parks operations. 

A Game Of Croquet At Riverside Park

Articles in both the Lewisburg Journal  & the Miltonian went on to list a few of the leading features citizens could expect to enjoy when the park officially opened that year.

"A bountiful supply of pure mountain water, and a well of good water; and auditorium with spacious storage and comfortable opera chairs, suitable for conventions, business meetings, and public entertainments; a magnificent dancing pavilion, hardwood floor, actual dance spare 50 x 100 feet, surrounded by wide balconies, filled with comfortable rocking chairs.  Connected with the dancing pavilion you find the Riverside Cafe, where all the delicacies of he season will be served at moderate prices. 

Special attractions for small children: The always welcome sand piles, where they can use their buckets and shovels to their hearts content: swings galore, toboggan slide, small merry go round, den of bears, horizontal bars and rings."

Also listed were: "A first-class baseball diamond for lovers of the national game; lawn tennis, quoits, high class motion pictures, circle wave, large merry-go-round, Ferris wheel, and four or five other big features that we will announce at a later date."

The merry go round and pavilions.
(Later, some of the playground equipment from Riverside Park was moved to the Milton island for the new Montgomery Island Park, which eventually became the state park)

The Ferris Wheel at Riverside Park In Milton.  The Trolley is on the tracks to the right

Another  photo of the Ferris Wheel

A scenet from Riverside Park In Milton

"Boating will be at it's best, and bath houses will be built where the beach is excellent for bathing." - The Miltonian, April 1910

The footbridge at Riverside Park 

In May of 1919, Dances were cancelled for a week after the park flooded.

The Dance Hall  at Riverside Park

July 1920

 Riverside Park, Milton Pa

Pavilions and benches.  There was access to the river for boating  too.

The Watsontown Record & Star 1913

 The current day pavilion at Lincoln park mimics the shape of the pavilion here at Riverside park

The Bear Cage At Riverside Park
A bear cub was caught and raised in a cage at the park. 

 The Bear Cage at riverside park

In November of 1916, the bear had been "driven to desperation by hunting dogs passing through the park."  When trolley employee Clarence Naber entered the bears cage to clean it and add bedding, the bear attacked him.  Nabers dog and wife got him free, but Naber lost his arm, and his dogs leg was broken.
(Detailed newspaper articles about the incident are at the bottom of this post )

The Clubhouse and Tennis Courts
The Clubhouse and Tennis Courts, built across the road from the park.
Tennis was very popular in Milton in the 1920s, with many tennis clubs around town.

July 1912
The clubhouse viewed from the side, with the tennis courts to the left

The End Of Riverside Park

The Miltonian
March 22 1928

In March of 1928, the borough of Milton passed a motion to clean up Riverside park , provided funds were raised and arrangements made for the parks management.

So when did Riverside Park Close?
The last trolley ran in August of 1928,. The park must have closed before the trolley ceased operations, if the Milton borough was making decisions about the land in March of 1928.
We do know that later in 1928, the town of Milton was organizing a new park, Montgomery Park, on the island.  "Some of the equipment has been moved from Riverside Park to the new location", according to various news articles in 1928.

In November of 1926, the Riverside Park was flooded. 
Although I don't know for certain, I suspect the trolley company abandoned the park, or turned it over to the town, after it flooded in November of 1926.

Find more local history here:

More News clippings about Riverside Park

Events Held At Riverside Park
A wide variety of events were held at the park over the years. Many family reunions, church picnics,  and club gatherings.  Below is just a sampling of those described in local newspapers.

The Miltonian
July 2010

In June of 1910,  Lionel Legare's Mammoth Spiral Tower performace was to be held twice - once in the afternoon, and again in the evening.
See Photos Of Legare's Spiral Tower Act Here:

July 1913 - 1,800 Pennsylvania Shopmen from Tyrone held a picnic at the park.  The next day a big picnic was held there by he machine air brake department of the Altoona shops.

August 1920 - "The Citizens of Lewisburg will have the chance of their lives to show their community spririt when the seven Sunday Schools of Lewisburg will hold their annual Union Picnic."

July 1922 - Womens Christian Temperance Union Gathering.  Three state Speakers and one National Speaker to attend.  

September 1922 - Elks Carnival Dance, from 8:30pm to 12:30am  with Joe Nesbits Orchestra.

July 1925 - Milton Community Picnic, various athletic games, bands, and fireworks

July 1925 the towns of Milton, Watsontown & Montandon all together held a community picnic.  The event included many athletic contests, and a baseball game between the Broadway and Front Street teams of Milton.

1928 - "Some equipment has been moved from Riverside Park to the island site that is now leased by Milton at a nominal rate each year" (Montgomery Island Park)

August 1933 - Members of The A&P picnicked with the Milton Lodge & Sunbury Order at Riverside Park.

In 1934, Frederick Godcharles gave a talk on Fort Boone and Fort Schwartz.

August 21 1935  - Annual Farmers Picnic.  Danville string band and orchestra will play from 10-5, free square dance in the afternoon.  "The usual line of automobile and merchandise exhibits." 

July 13 1936 - 125 members of the B.P.O Elks club enjoyed a clam bake and picnic at Riverside Park.  The picnic included 75lbs of steaks, fried potatoes, clam chowder, and steamed clams served a noon. A cold luncheon was served buffet style throughout the day, and at supper there were steamed clams and a picnic lunch.

The Lewisburg Journal
April 10 1910
The Miltonian
April 1910

Lewisburg Journal
May 27 1910

 Captive Bear Attacks Keeper At Riverside Park
The Lewisburg Journal
November 1916

The bear attack made the news all the way across the nation, in Spokane Washington
January 1917

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