Glen Park

From Jefferson County NY Wiki

This article covers both the village of Glen Park as well as the Glen Park Amusement Park.

Glen Park (village)[edit | edit source]

Glen Park lies on the border of the Towns of Brownville and Pamelia and is immediately north of Watertown.

Glen Park took its name from the amusement park across the river (see Glen Park Amusement Park below), as the village had previously been known as "Jim Wood's Falls" or just "Wood's Falls". The original name was named after Jim Wood, an original settler who came from New Hampshire in 1804. Jim Wood and his sons built a large two-story stone building, which is still standing, as well as a saw mill and had nearly completed a large mill in Glen Park when a Spring flood washed away the mill, the dam, and his saw mill. Glen Park's name could have been changed because there was another Wood's Mills in Jefferson County at the time.

Sometime between 1884 and 1893 C.R. Remington and his family incorporated a paper mill business, with a capital of $225,000 (see photo and more info at the bottom of this page). The village was incorporated in 1893, at the offices of the C.R. Remington & Sons Paper Mill during a special meeting.

After C.R. Remington and Sons started their paper mill business they constructed a dam (210 feet long with 13 gates) across the Black River at Glen Park, as well as a paper mill (to see photos of the ruins of the C.R. Remington Paper Mill go to this site and this site ) and another one further down the river. Milo L. Cleveland and his company built the mill for Remington; Cleveland's company also built the Opera House and the former Cleveland Building in Watertown.

The first mill (seen in pictures below) was completed on January 1st, 1889. Milo L. Cleveland and his company built the mill for Remington, Cleveland's company also built the Opera House, The Elks Building, and the former Cleveland Building in Watertown.

On March 1st, 1891 the machinery in the mill was shut down for repairs and high water almost completely destroyed the mill; scattered equipment and collapsed the roof and some of the walls. The collapse also injured one man and killed another; John Murphy, aged 65 or 68. Damage was estimated at about $50,000 to $75,000 and would take four months to repair. After eighteen years of operation the mill was sold to the International Paper Company in 1899. In 1927 the mill burned largely to the ground.


Later another paper mill down-river a short distance was built by the Ontario Paper Company.


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The remains of the C.R. Remington Paper Mill in Glen Park (many more photos at this page and on this page).


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A new high school was built in 1956 near Dexter for the 1954 merger of the Brownville-Glen Park and Dexter school districts (see General Brown Central School). This was enlarged in 1960 and the elementary school in Brownville was enlarged in 1964, later the Brownville elementary school was again enlarged and the older Brownville school building was demolished.

Glen Park Amusement Park[edit | edit source]

Between 1890 and 1901 the Glen park Amusement Park was a gathering place for thousands from all over. It was on land that was originally part of the Henry Wilson farm, along the south side of the Black River at Jim Wood's Falls area.

About 1891 a recreational center was built across from Glen Park (Wood's Mills at the time) on the opposite side of the river from where the village is now. This property was originally part of the Henry Wilson farm. Glen Park Amusement Park was known as the "Coney Island of the North Country" and had been built by the Watertown and Brownville Street Railway Company, headed by Lincoln G. DeCant and the idea was conceived by stockholders Alfred Remington and John C. Thompson.


At first a temporary wooden bridge was constructed. Later a three-hundred foot iron bridge was built across the river by the Springfield Iron Works of Springfield, MA and the amusement park itself was built in a grove of trees, making a natural amphitheater. The hillside was terraced and seats were placed there, and in 1895 a pavilion fifty feet by a hundred was built, with a kitchen and ladies' toilet room, water was forced across the bridge from the C.R. Remington Mill across the water. Rustic seats and patent swings were scattered around the area. The closed opera house was said to have a balcony and could seat eight to nine hundred people and the open opera house has a canvas around it. A sulfur well was also on the grounds and was said to be as black as ink and which people from all over came to drink from; supposedly for health reasons.


The Red and Black Football Team played at the football field in the park until the team moved its games to the fairgrounds in Watertown. At one time the Red and Black Football Team played a championship there and won twenty-three to zero, with five thousand spectators watching. Lacrosse was also played on the field, including a number of Canadians teams and some American Indians teams.


Traveling shows stopped at the Glen Park amusement park and the Watertown city band played there. The park was equipped with electric lights, as well as some of the cave system. The merry-go-round was electric, possibly the first or a very early iteration of the electric version. A ferris wheel may also have been at the park.


A tower, eighty feet tall, was built and several acts performed there over the years. One by a man named Harry Gilford who rode off the tower into a tank of water, one-legged and another, a Mr. Smith, would soak himself in gasoline and run through flames, jumping off into a tank of water. These acts were traveling acts that toured the US and would perform each year.

Two powered swings that swung 30 feet into the area were at one time used by visitors, but after a few accidents they were taken down.

A zoo had seven black bears, many birds and monkeys. and there were ponies to ride, hot air balloon rides and people could even parachute out of them it was said.


Another act to perform was a tightrope act. A cable was strung over the river, attached from the highest window in the mill to the bank on the other side (there is a reference that perhaps the mount on the stone can still be found) and a tightrope artist performed his act over the running waters. The man put a cheese box around his legs for the act and offered anyone fifty dollars to allow him to carry them across - no one ever took him up on the offer. His last performances was while performing at Niagara Falls on a tightrope, the lights went out and he fell to his death.


A switch-back railway was built also, which is similar to the roller coaster concept but made of a straight track with a steep grade, with a turn-around at the end.


At one time another cable was strung across from one side to the other and people could rent a small skiff to cross over the river to the other side. On the Fourth of July 1893 Walter Darling, 21 and Abi Wooley, 17 drown while on a skiff ride. Walter had rented a boat and rowed Abi upstream a couple of times and then drifted downstream. It had begun to rain and theirs was the only boat that hadn't been returned. Manager DeCant called out but Darling seemed to ignore him. The skiff drifted under the bridge, struck the wire that was stretched across the river and overturned. Attempts were made to rescue the pair but both were drowned, Frank Hogue diving in to try and save them unsuccessfully. A coroner's jury declared that the cause of death was accidental drowning, but recommended that the boat rentals be discontinued as there was substantial risk of loss of life.

Trinity Church Sunday School opened the park with a picnic excursion for more than 500 teachers and students on Wednesday, July 26, 1891.

At one time it was said that 1,500 to 2,000 people went to the park in one day, which was about all that the Watertown Street Railroad could handle and other times people had to walk because of the large number of people going to and from the park.


Glen Park Amusement Park Caves[edit | edit source]

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Caves under the park also were a big attraction, with floors being built in them as well as stairs and electric lights strung. The caves probably were discovered in 1822 and for a short time were exhibited for a fee. L.H. Everts and J.M. Holcomb's book History of Jefferson County relates that the caves formed an intricate labyrinth, leading in all directions and with some passages connecting back to other ones, and large mineral deposits in many places. Even during that period it was related that many of these mineral deposits had been destroyed or taken by visitors. Another account compares some of the system to city streets with cross streets connecting them. But in some places large stones has fallen over times, revealing other chambers and sometimes creating 'columns' of stone. Streams and springs also could be seen travelling through the cave system. One reference mentions that some of the 'avenues' were large enough to drive a horse and buggy through (Haddock's History of Jefferson County).


There were eight to fifteen flights of stairs down into the cave system, averaging twelve to seventeen feet long, and wooden benches were situated through the cave system with picnic tables on the third floor where people would have their lunches in the cooler temperatures of the cave during Summer months. A total of thirty marriages were performed in the caves over the years. It was said that people were ferried almost 1,000 feet into the one cave on an underground stream, with geological surveys listing 38 caves int eh area of Glen Park with one room large enough for square dances to be held, and one cave extending a quarter of a mile and descending 350 feet. Supposedly the falls of the river could be heard in some of the caves that extended toward the river.


The cave in modern times seems to have collapsed, but the occasional spelunker can still go inside, though it is dangerous and is not advised. The land is all private property.


Glen Park Amusement Park Diagram


  • three-hundred foot bridge (1)
  • soda parlor (2)
  • pop corn and peanut stand (3)
  • hot dog stand (4)
  • closed opera house (5)
  • photo-tinning shop (6)
  • an open-air opera house (7)
  • switch-back rail way (8)
  • cave (9)
  • sulfur/mineral well (10)
  • the 3-acre football and baseball field (11)
  • tower of eighty feet (12)
  • Remington Mill (13)
  • balloon ascensions (14)
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The Bridge

The three-hundred foot bridge stood until 1904 when spring floods and ice flows washed it away (ruins of the support for the footbridge can still be seen - a photo is on this page).

The Glen Park Amusement Park foot bridge, looking toward the village of Glen park.
The Glen Park Amusement Park foot bridge, looking toward the village of Glen park.
A view of the 300 foot span to the park. This substantial structure went out with the spring ice flow in 1904.
A view of the 300 foot span to the park. This substantial structure went out with the spring ice flow in 1904.


The loss of the bridge, Watertown Trolley Company discontinuing service to Glen Park, and the opening of Thompson Park signaled the demise of the amusement park, which quickly died sometime right before the first World War.


Presently


The land was sold to a local farmer for use as a pasture and some of the area is presently being used by the Jefferson County Industrial Park and Fedex.

A few years back before the development of the Industrial Park a few members of this site explored the area and did some metal detecting. The area was heavily wooded with little to no sign of anything having been there, the ground was rough and some of the caves seemed to have collapsed or partially collapsed inward. There is still the base of the foot bridge on the side of the Black River across from the village, which can be seen from the fishing access in Glen Park Village.