Saturday, October 22, 2016

Eugene Gochenour's Memoirs: New York State Theme Parks of the 1950s


Santa's Workshop at the North Pole, 1957, New York State
The North Pole, New York State, 1957
This selection from my dad's memoirs recalls family vacations we took in 1956 and 1957. I recall these trips although I was only four and five years old: The North Pole, Frontier Town, The Land of Make Believe, and The Enchanted Village.  
Santa's Workshop at The North Pole, NY, 1957. Dad, me and Grandma Gochenour
"Once a year Joyce, Nancy and I would take a week’s vacation. Most years we went to the Adirondack mountains.

"Once we took Nancy to the North Pole to see Santa's Workshop.
Here I am at the North Pole. I remember there were goats
that followed me, chewing on my jacket, and I was scared of them.
"Then we went to Frontier Town where we rode on a stagecoach and were robbed by bandits. We also watched a gunfight on the main street of town. The stagecoach robbers were caught, and punished.


Frontier Town, New York State, 1957
I'm in jail at Frontier Town, 1957

And Mom in the pillory while Grandma Gochenour stands by. Frontier Town 1957.

Frontier Town, 1957
At Frontier Town surrounded by cowboys
"I always had a fishing pole along, and if we found a cabin by a lake or river I would spend the evening fishing. On some of our trips we went to Whiteface Mountain, Fort Ticonderoga, and the Au Sable Chasm, and took the ferry to Burlington, Vermont. While in Vermont we drove through the Green Mountains, then traveled the Taconic Trail. 
Au Sable Caverns 1957
Nancy, 1957
Howe Caverns 1957
I was only five years old but I remember this cabin. It was a lovely
retreat at the end of a busy day of sightseeing.
Dad preparing fish on our family vacation in 1957
"One year we went to Hyde Park, the home of President Roosevelt, then to the Howe Caverns, the Vanderbilt Mansion, and the Corning Glass works where there was a glass museum and a factory where we watched them blow glass objects. Nancy was always a good traveler. Most of our vacations were in New York State.
That's Mom and Me on the right at the foot of Paul Bunyan
the Enchanted Forest 1957
At The Enchanted Forest with Mom and Grandma Gochenour
The Enchanted Forest, 1957, talking to the Pumpkin Eater's wife
The Enchanted Forest apparently had an ark
At the Land of Make Believe 1957
The Land of Make Believe, 1957. Dad, me and Grandma Gochenour
The Land of Make Believe, 1957

Learn more about these attractions:

The North Pole, NY Santa's Workshop was the first theme park and featured the first petting zoo in America.
http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/11577

Frontier Town in North Hudson, NY 1952-1999, Story Town which opened in 1954, The Land of Make Believe, and Santa's Workshop were all in the Adirondacks. Here is a brochure for the theme parks:
http://www.worldsfaircommunity.org/topic/12154-the-adirondacks-in-the-1960s/

The Land of Make Believe, Upper Jay, NY, 1954-1979, which sadly was flooded out:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LeJuueKDlI0

Story Town:
http://www.crazedfanboy.com/npcr10/fanboypcr542.php

The Enchanted Forest opened in 1956:
http://www.roadarch.com/fairyparks/ny.html

Mom and I feeding critters