Photo TR: Eldridge Park Elmira, NY

Mark Twain's Grave, Brass Ring Carousel, and Beer
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Photo TR: Eldridge Park Elmira, NY

Postby Taylor Finn » Mon Jun 05, 2017 11:22 am

So, my work took me out to the middle of nowhere northeast, PA. I had some free time for an afternoon/evening so I did some research and found out that 40 minutes from my hotel, a historic carousel existed at Eldridge Park. The park had been open since the late 1800's, before deteriorating in the 1980's. The carousel's original horses were sold off around this time. The park made a triumphant return in 2006, with the reopening of the carousel with all new horses. The original platform and ride mechanism still exist today and the ride is a beauty. With all this in mind, I made the trek up there. My first stop, however, was Woodlawn National Cemetery where a certain famous American Author is buried.
I arrived at the South entrance of the Cemetery right around 5, and as soon as I parked, I was greeted with signage directing to me his grave. I guess they know people come specifically to see him, so they've made it quite easy to find.
In fact, most of his family is also buried here. He married his wife Olivia here and spent most of his summers in the 1870's and 80's in Elmira, NY writing.
After visiting his grave, I drove a mile or so and grabbed some great chinese takeout to eat on Elmira College's campus right outside of Mark Twain's summer study which is where he wrote most of his prolific work. The Chinese place did not give me a fork or chop sticks and so I ate my food with the lid from my drink. Disturbing.
A few miles later, I arrived at Eldridge Park.
I really did not know what to expect when I arrived here. I had done a small amount of research on the place, but I mostly just knew they had an old brass ring carousel that was recently restored.
The first thing I ran into was the Mark Twain Mini Golf course. I didn't play, but it was built in 2010 and looks quite nice. $5/game.
A miniature train that kids can ride runs around the course and costs $1.
Also noted.
This mural was unveiled a few seasons ago on the side of the restroom facility and captures what the park may have looked like back in its hey day.
Said restroom facility (which happens to be a building restored from the parks prior days). As i understand it, everyone working at the park does so on a volunteer basis. They truly have the support of the town in making this park something special again.
I arrived at the ticket booth in the carousel pavilion and purchased my tickets for the carousel and thunderbirds. The prices were welcome and added to the appeal. The park is typically open just on the weekends, though they will open for holidays and other events.
I hopped on my outside horse and we were off.
The operator had a nice bell (with a plaque noting who donated it) to start the ride. Like I said, the original starting lever is still in place from the rides early days. It is an 1890's Loof model brought to the park in 1924 and is a marvel.
Now, the only other brass ring carousel I have been on is Knoebels and they operate it a bit differently. There, every time you go around to grab a ring, there is a ring to grab. If you are lucky, you will get the brass ring, not the silver ones. When the ride is over, you try to toss them into the lion's mouth. This one (someone let me know what is more common/traditional) dispenses one ring at the ride attendant's discretion per ride. I wasn't totally prepared for this, so I attempted to grab at air the first few times, unsuccessfully before giving up.
Another crap picture of the brass ring dispenser.
A much better picture, no doubt. They have unofficially claimed the title of the fastest operating carousel at around 18 mph. This thing hauls. One more cute detail. The older man operating the ride determined when the (long) ride cycle was over by turning an egglass timer over and waiting.
As I understand it, this pavilion is also original, though nicely refurbished.
Here we are, the other major attraction at the park. A nice set of Flyers purchased from another park in Indiana (I believe) and restored here. They run real nice. Although I didn't get a 'snap' the sails had a nice amount of flexibility and I was able to have a really great ride. Probably my #3 behind Knoebels and Kings Dominion. They opened in 2012.
I believe the cafe opened in 2009. Food was all reasonable. I know they have "Pokemon Go" Special, which is a hot dog, fries, and drink for $4.50. For a while, the park was infiltrated by a large number of people trying to catch 'em all, as it sits in a nicely wooded area near a natural lake.
Inside the cafe was a "Museum" with some of the cars from various rides in the park. As I understand it, in 2014, they acquired a Tilt-A-Whirl from the now defunct Bushkill Park that is being restored. It will make a great addition to the park (hopefully next year)!
They have one other car from the Speedway wooden coaster that operated here for a while. This is a really clever use.
The arcade is new for last year, I believe. Again, for a park that is as reasonable as it is, they are doing a great job of making significant improvements each and every year.
The other three rides in the park reside in Kiddieland and were all added in the last four years. I find the donors very interesting.
Ride one. They were all in very good condition and were put here specifically because similar rides were at the old Eldridge Park. I can appreciate the little details.
And boats.
Just a reminder of what they got here.
So, another interesting tidbit. If you wanna read about a restoration project for a very important horse statue, go ahead. I think the monument is just about done and is sitting on display now.
They also had these cute dragon paddle boats. Couldn't pay me to work that hard.
And Jasper II, which I guess is a homage to an original motor boat the old park had. Really nice to be able to go around the lake for $2. I didn't have enough time to really do this, but it is a really beautiful area. There are baseball and soccer fields on both sides of the lake. New this year, also, is some picnic pavilions that were donated and put up recently. When I was there, people were fishing in the lake. All in all, a nice place to take the family for a few hours.
Mister Dragon.
Not my picture, but gives you an idea of how nice the park really looks. They restored the midway a few years after the carousel opened, a project in itself. I can truly see this place continuing to add every year for a while. A new ride every year and this park will quickly become even nicer. Now for a quick bonus stop.
Again, this trip popped up because I wasn't needed at work last minute, so I didn't do a whole lot of research or anything. But I drove a few miles to Harris Hill Amusements. They have go karts.
And batting cages. And a driving range (off to the right).
Sign 2 and a mini golf course (not quite as nice as Eldridge, but clearly this place has been around for a while). I really didn't find a whole lot of interest here, but nothing is really on here about this place, so I figured miles well take some pictures.
Coke, pls.
They had 5 or 6 kiddie rides here. A bit pricier here at $1.75/ride vs. $1 at Eldridge. They all appeared well maintained.
Another one.
A nice little carousel.
This arcade was truly out of a different time. Not too many games from the past 10-15 years.
A nice little counter to order food. All in all, I spent 10 minutes here walking around. Part of me was hopeful I would find something neat here (a kiddie coaster or something), but it's just an old-fashioned family run entertainment center.
I finished my day here, where I was able to score a beer flight of all 8 of their current taps for $6. They had a really nice blueberry ale, as well as bizarre chili beer, that tasted a little too much like heat for my liking. Thanks for reading and tolerating my pictures. I hope some of you guys can make it out to Eldridge and show this park some love if you're in the area. I dunno when I will be out there next, but I am quite excited to read about what they do next year.

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Re: Photo TR: Eldridge Park Elmira, NY

Postby Philrad71 » Mon Jun 05, 2017 2:48 pm

Thanks for posting this report and taking the time to go check these two parks out for us, Taylor!

I recall driving on I-86 and seeing signs for an amusement park around Elmira. I had no idea what size the park would be, but assumed that it was small because I had never seen anything posted about it on TPR. ;)

Another park that I would like to get to in NY besides Coney Island & Seabreeze is Sylvan Lake....such a cute looking little retro park!

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Re: Photo TR: Eldridge Park Elmira, NY

Postby Taylor Finn » Tue Jun 06, 2017 10:46 am

^No problem! I'm glad you enjoyed hearing about them.

And yeah, that park looks like it has quite a few older flats and even a cool retro dark ride. I will certainly keep it on the radar!

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Re: Photo TR: Eldridge Park Elmira, NY

Postby Canobie Coaster » Tue Jun 06, 2017 12:24 pm

Thanks for the report!

I had no idea this park even existed. It's always good to know there's another carousel with brass ringy dingy ding-a-ling dings out there. I just wish this park wasn't so far off the beaten path as I'd love to visit it.
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Re: Photo TR: Eldridge Park Elmira, NY

Postby Taylor Finn » Sat Jul 13, 2019 1:40 pm

Update: Eldridge is adding a Tilt a Whirl (originally from Bushkill Park). This is great news for a little volunteer run small town park. They’ll have Flyers, a classic carousel with brass ring dispenser, Tilt a Whirl, three classic kiddie flats, paddle boats, a motor boat cruise, and a great mini golf course with a mini train. Not a bad lineup of things!

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Re: Photo TR: Eldridge Park Elmira, NY

Postby SharkTums » Sat Jul 13, 2019 5:40 pm

Must be a very nice community! The park really did look in great shape and nice. I wish them the best!

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Re: Photo TR: Eldridge Park Elmira, NY

Postby Nrthwnd » Sat Jul 13, 2019 6:33 pm

Yellow Carousel Horses! :b

By the way, it does look a bit wierd, seeing a lot of the children's rides fenced in, with chain link fence.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. :wink:
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Re: Photo TR: Eldridge Park Elmira, NY

Postby bert425 » Sat Jul 13, 2019 7:35 pm

Nice to see this report. . not sure how I missed it in 2017, but glad you updated so it popped back up to the top.

the Carousel is lovely at Eldridge Park, and very reasonable too at only $1 a ride.

although I totally understand the reasoning for the plaques under the horses - and bravo to those folks who donated for the restorations and therefore got the plaques - it always is a little disappointing to see, as it takes away from the "classic" feel of the ride. (I see in the background, a wall of doners. . surprised they didn't do that instead of putting names by each horse on the Carousel). That's just nit-picking tho, it's absolutely lovely.

did you ever find out the answer to your "brass ring" question?
In my experience (as a Carousel lover), tho would look to Laura to back me up here :). . . .

Traditionally: the brass ring would be run closer to what is being done here at Eldridge, although in each cycle there would be two or 3 times the ring will appear to try and grab it.

i appreciate greatly what Knoebel's does, which let's so many people get the opportunity to get a ring. But traditionally, it was only offered rarely during the ride, and that's why it was such a big deal to get it

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