On-line Book




Chapter 1

Chapter 2
Urban Development

Chapter 3
Maritime Activity

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Appendix 1
Patterned Brick Houses

Appendix 2
Stack Houses

Appendix 3
Existing Documentation


Historic Themes and Resources within the
New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail Route
National Park Service Arrowhead


Amusement Parks

Three amusement parks served residents of Pennsville, Bridgeton, and Millville. Riverview Beach Park in Pennsville was on the Delaware River, off Route 49 (Fig. 121). In 1923 it flaunted a boardwalk, bathhouses, and boat/canoe wharves, as well as several dance halls and rides; among the last were a roller coaster, carousel, the Whip, and Joyland. [14] In the 1930s Riverview was among the first parks to erect the spectacular new Pretzel. [15]

Figure 121. Map of Riverview Beach, Pennsville. This amusement park/beach offered a scenic view of the Delaware Bay as well as minor activities. Sanborn, 1923. (click on image for an enlargement in a new window)

In the 1890s the Tumbling Dam Amusement Park was constructed on the north edge of Bridgeton on Sunset Lake (Fig. 122), a manmade body of water first intended for boating parties. In 1893 the Lower Pavilion was constructed on the east shore of the lake; on the north, a boathouse was erected. The launches ADELE and CATHERINE carried visitors from the lower raceway of the dam to the park. By 1894 access to the park improved with the construction of a trolley line directly to the site. In 1913, the park's popularity attracted celebrities such as Annie Oakley in a Wild West show, and one of the Wright Brothers for a demonstration flight. [16]

Figure 122. Tumbling Dam Amusement Park inspired the invention of the Pretzel Ride and Razzle Dazzle by Leon Cassidy and Marvin Rempfer. Sanborn, ca. 1915.

To please the increasing number of visitors, by 1895 Tumbling Dam installed a toboggan waterslide. Five years later it advertised the Razzle Dazzle, a circular man-powered swing, placed near the Lower Pavilion. But the park's popularity can also be attributed to its permanent attractions, according to the 1915 Sanborn map: the pavilion, boat house, bowling alley, bathhouses, open-air theater, enclosed merry-go-round, airship swing, baseball stadium and field, and a confectionery that doubled as the trolley stop. [17] In 1928 Leon Cassidy and Marvin Rempfer created a ride especially for the park. The inventors:

took a motor and frame from an old scooter (bumping) car and redesigned it to follow a track that twisted and turned like a pretzel. . . . The car traveled through the dark room making sudden turns, where scary scenes awaited. [18]

Because of the path followed by the cars, it was called the Pretzel Ride. By the 1930s, Cassidy began to work on the ride by himself and soon invented a portable model; he and about thirty employees worked at the trolley-car barn on South Avenue in Bridgeton. Concurrently, Rempfer was designing rides for Riverview Beach Park in Pennsville, which was also one of the first parks to acquire Cassidy's Pretzel. [19]

Despite the success of new rides, visitation to Tumbling Dam Park dropped off after World War II and the subsequent rise of automobile ownership and the mobility it offered. In 1954 use was limited to sunbathing, and by the end of the decade the property had been sold and developed into residential lots. [20]

Union Lake Amusement Park, later called Luna Park, in Millville witnessed a similar fate. The Millville Manufacturing Company established it at the head of Union Lake in the early twentieth century. Bridgeton and Vineland trolley lines serviced the park. Among the attractions were a ferris wheel, confectionery booths, and games, as well as boat slips (Fig. 123). By the 1930s, again because of the automobile, Luna Park had lost its allure, too. However, Union Lake near the park was lined with the summer homes of middle-class families (Fig. 124) which contributed to the preservation of this area. The majority of these homes appear to be simple, frame, one- and two-story gable-roofed cottages with porches and docks facing onto the lake. These structures were in use well into the mid twentieth century. Today they have been replaced by a municipal park and a housing development. [21]

Figure 123. Union Lake docks offered relaxation and waterslide entertainment to visitors. Wettstein, early 20th century.

resort homes
Figure 124. Union Lake remained an affordable resort for many middle-class families after serving as part of the amusement park Wettstein, early 20th century.

Municipal Parks Today

Bridgeton, Pennsville, and Millville each have sizeable municipal parks. Bridgeton's municipal park is located off of West Commerce Street on Aitken Drive. This site includes the New Sweden Farmstead Museum, the Lenni Lenape Indian Village, and the Cohanzick Zoo, as well as 1,200 acres of woodland, recreational facilities, lakes, picnic areas, and bathing beaches. The Pennsville park is located where the Riverview Beach park used to be, offering recreational facilities, outdoor concerts, and a walking track. Millville has two parks: one is on a small portion of what used to be Union Lake Park, the other is located off Route 49 along the Maurice River.

Notes >>>

top of page Top

Last Modified: Mon, Mar 14 2005 10:00:00 pm PDT

National Park Service's ParkNet Home