Ontario Beach Park – #28

Spring of 1913 was one of times when Lake Ontario would try to take over the beach. High water left a lot of debris on the beach. It also washed away part of the sidewalk. Workmen had to hurry to get everything finished on time for the opening

The Park held two preview days; Sunday May 18th and Sunday, May 25th. There wasn’t any acts on the outside stage. They also stopped calling it Cirque de L’Air as in previous years and just referred to it as the free stage. Those two Sundays they did have Hebing’s Military Band.

There were only two things added to the Park in 1913. One was called Cake Walk, and I’m not sure what that was. The second new thing was called Suffragette Kitchen. For 5 cents you get to throw 3 wooden balls at dishes, cups, etc. and see how many things you could break.

In the second week in June the NY Sportmen’s Association held their 56th annual trap shot at the Park. Shooters were on the beach and shooting at clay pigeons flying over the lake. J. S. Hopkins from Lewiston turned in a perfect score and won first prize.

On July 10th there was a fatal accident on the Scenic Railway (roller coaster). That ride consisted of four tracks. The operator of a car on track 3 stopped because he saw a man in the tunnel. The car had Anna Schmidt with five or six other riders. The people in the car thought that another car was coming at them so they jumped from the car to track 4. But Anna Schmidt jumped out of the car in the other direction and over the railing. Anna was struck by a car on track 2. Anna was taken to Hahnemann Hospital where she died. At an inquest in August it was noted that James Burns, the manager of the ride, knew there was a car stalled and let the second car proceed. The operator of the car that hit Miss Schmidt said he didn’t have time to stop.

On the bottom of the ad on the right it notes picnics and outings that were happening each day. On Saturday, July 26th there were two large groups from out of town that came to the Park. First was a group of 3,000 people from Batavia. They filled 3 trains. Also that same day came 1,200 employees of the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh Railroad car shops in Bradford, PA and Salamanca, NY. They filled 13 RR cars.

Late July saw Dare Devil Jack run a wire from the top of the cupola on Hilarity Hall (former Auditorium) to about 50 feet over the lake. He did three different slides down the wire. For a couple of days he slid down the wire hanging by his teeth. Then for 2 days he slid down on roller skates and finally he slid down hanging by his toes. Each time, at the end of his slide, he dove into the lake.

On Aug 5th was the 9th annual Orphans picnic. This year 902 orphans went to the Park. Given out were 1000 bags of candy, 1000 corn fritters, 1000 bags of peanuts, 1000 ice cream cones, 1000 gallons of orangeade, chewing gum and chocolate candy, 100 cakes with frosting. One orphan, Mary Bigelow, lost her rag doll. Another doll was offered to her but she wanted her original. The doll was found later under a swinging bridge in the Hilarity Hall.

Charlotte Ferry

In early August there was a carnival to benefit the Children’s Free Dispensary. You had to pay 25 cents to get in the Park instead of the usual 10 cents. They ended up raising $5,000 for the Dispensary. That same week, one of the acts on the outdoor stage was Power’s elephants. After the elephant’s stage show, Roxie, Lena, and Jennie went into the lake for a bath. Misses Jeanette and Julia Power did dives off the top of the elephants into the lake.

The Democrat & Chronicle of Sept. 2nd had a article about a proposed bridge extending Stutson Street across the river. Approximate cost will be $150,000. Up until this time the furthest north bridge crossing the Genesee River was at Driving Park Avenue. People and bicycle could take the ferry between Charlotte and Summerville but not automobiles.

One Comment

  1. I’ve been over Stutson St. Bridge many, many times and am glad I don’t have to drive all the way down to Driving Park to get to the other side of the river. I also remember doing a cake walk once when I was under age 14. There were square pieces of colored construction paper laid out in a large circle on a stage and a group of people walked around the circle (like musical chairs) and when the music stopped, if a person was standing on the paper that said CAKE, you got to pick a cake from a table of donated cakes.

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