Sacandaga Park Main Road

ABOVE - Main Road, Sacandaga Park, circa 1905, looking strangely depopulated for a resort. The white boarding house-restaurant may have been affiliated with the Osbourn Inn, a grand Adirondack hotel on Lake Pleasant at Speculator.

Today Main Road is 200 yards of steeply-sloping blacktop which dead ends beside Great Sacandaga Lake. A modern building housing the popular "Sport Island Pub" now largely occupies the sites of "The Hampton" and "Osbourn House".

BELOW - The green building at the top of the slope in the 1905 view sparkles with new white paint in the summer of 2001.

It must have been wonderful.

After a five and a half-day week cutting deerskin, humping barrels of tanning chemicals, or scraping the hair off hides, Sacandaga Park was just 25 cents and a 45 minute train ride from the mills of Gloversville. Here a nickel or dime bought a ride on the carousel or a roller coaster high as a three story house. There were donkey rides on wooded trails, and a giant Panama Slide from a cliff into the Sacandaga River lagoon. There was even a "Mush Pit", where bent wicker benches on secluded paths offered so much more privacy than the crannies of a wooden milltown tenement.

Sacandaga Park got its unlikely start just after the Civil War as a summer temperance tent camp . By the 1870s, the Fonda, Johnstown, and Gloversville railroad connected the Village of Northville on the opposite bank of the Sacandaga to the mills of Gloversville. After the railroad laid out a picnic ground at Sacandaga Park, German Friendship Society picnickers and their lager barrels to quickly routed the temperance campers.

The railroad built cabins, followed in 1889 by a magnificent inn which mixed high Victorian and traditional Adirondack styles.

A former Sacandaga Park Boarding House

Sacandaga Park prospered with the region's factories and carpet mills, despite 11 major fires which consumed almost every early building except the inn. Rebuilding after the "Great Fire" of 1898 destroyed all but 5 of 100 cottages, the railroad added an amusement park. Its midway featured a carousel and roller coaster, as well as a minature steam train connecting the riverside amusements with the baseball field and picnic grounds on "Sport Island".

Ironically, water succeeded where fire had failed. With a few years of the park's reconstruction, plans were afoot to dam the Sacandaga River as flood protection for the cities below its junction with the Hudson.

Sacandaga Park Burro Ride Tickets

By the mid-1920s, New York State had purchased or condemned most of the land on the Sacandaga Valley floor. In 1929 rising waters of what was originally called the Sacandaga Resevoir spelled the end for Sport Island, the low-lying midway, and the Northville railroad line. The resort hotels on higher ground stayed open for many years after the park closed. The last survivor, the railroad's own Adirondack Inn, burned to the ground in 1975.

Today none of the park's amusements survive except the golf course, which was one of the original attractions in 1898. However, many fragments of the park can be glimpsed on a casual stroll through what is now the community of Sacandaga Park. They include several pine-shaded streets of cottages built in the style of three-quarter scale Victorian houses, as well as some of the boarding houses that catered to the overnight vistor trade.

But perhaps the most dramatic reminder of what once was is the FJG's Sacandaga Park Station. Stranded when the rails were torn out for scrap, the station had served as a stable and vending machine company warehouse, as well as the residence of a sculptor named Faust, who surrounded it with a magnificent art park filled with his own works. A couple of years ago, it was almost purchased by a developer who reportedly wished to turn the site into a trailer park. But this proposal was rejected, and the station has been restored by its eventual purchaser in a rare happy ending to such a tale.

Sacandaga Park Station circa 1910