For The Daily Item
First known as Indian Park, Edgewood Park was among the Valley's favorite warm-weather destinations.
When it opened in 1905, visitors could reach the park only by taking a two-mile trolley ride that ended at the park. Many other amusement parks across the country also served as a trolley line's last and favorite stop.
The 97-acre resort was located on the fringes of Shamokin in Coal Township, an attractive spot with lush green trees, mountain springs, and a small lake. A deer park brought lots of visitors to the park to observe the wildlife.
Shamokin businessman and 17th District Congressman Monroe H. Kulp was primarily responsible for the park's development and the expansion of the Shamokin and Edgewood Electric Railway and served as the railway's president from 1900 until his death in 1911. His intention was to create a destination that would provide a welcome escape from the summer heat and he was quite successful in creating a getaway that appealed to any age group.
The park had walking trails, picnic facilities, cookhouses, free ice, and every convenience the management could think of and provide. It was a popular spot for family reunions, church gatherings, and school outings. A theater provided vaudeville acts and Friday night amateur shows. In 1926, the Edgewood Amusement Co., a group of local citizens who banded together, constructed a large swimming pool on the property. The pool was one of the region's most popular at the time. A café and restaurant were favorite gathering spots at the park.
In later years, famous entertainers Duke Ellington and Kay Kyser performed in the large dance pavilion attracting throngs of dancers and music lovers.
A separate roller skating rink drew large crowds of young people to socialize and sharpen their skating skills.
"Touring the Alps," a ride which had sharp rises and steep drops, provided riders with a thrilling ride that compared to the modern roller coaster. In March 1923, the ride was destroyed by a windstorm but was promptly rebuilt because of its popularity. The park's midway featured a marvel of amusements including the Penny Arcade, merry-go-round, the Scooter, Dodge 'Em cars, a junior roller coaster, billiards, bowling, a shooting gallery, and an ice cream stand.
One of the most popular rides in the park was "The School of Mines" which was a type of roller coaster that ran through a four-story structure. It whizzed around curves, had sharp ups and downs in complete darkness, and simulated a coal mine with dimly lit scenes of the coal industry.
Mannequin figures representing coal miners hard at work were one of the highlights of the ride. The ride's cars took visitors through coal, gold, lead, and rock salt mines which displayed the mineral deposits in their natural formations.
As the automobile began to replace public transportation, the park began to lose some of its appeal because families now had the ability to travel by car to other destinations. By the mid 1950s, the park began to decline and the only features that remained were the swimming pool and the lake.
Between 1957 and 1960, the 97-acre property was divided into several parcels and sold. It now is the site of several schools, athletic fields, and a housing development.
• "Once Upon A Time In ...." is a Monday feature provided by the historical societies in Montour, Northumberland, Snyder and Union counties. The columns focus on people, places and objects of historical significance in those counties. Cindy Inkrote is director of the Northumberland County Historical Society. The Society's Genealogical Library and Historical Research Center is located at 1150 N. Front St., Sunbury. For more information call 286-4083 or visit www.northumberlandcountyhistoricalsociety.org/