Monday, June 10, 2013

Of Trolley Parks and Kettle Lakes

The awards ceremony tonight will be held in a spot unique to our area, although once such places were all over New York State. The park that holds the CRT Pavilion is the last of our local trolley parks, in this case, a park built by the one-time Cortland County Traction Company. The idea was to build something so that people had to use the trolleys on weekends as well as during the week. Coney Island Amusement Park is another, much larger example.

Most trolley parks were built as amusement parks, but the one near Little York Lake was built expressly for family picnics and more modest entertainment. The pavilion was constructed as a restaurant and dance hall and fell into decline once the trolleys were gone, in 1931–32. The park was renamed Dwyer Memorial Park after the county highway superintendent who began restoration of the pavilion and park 20 years later. The lake in the park, Little York Lake, is an example of a kettle lake, one created by receding glaciers. There are plenty of those around here, but Little York is especially small and compact.

Cortland Rep, which now occupies the top floor of the pavilion (which always feels to me like a strong wind could knock it over), offers a nice story about the pavilion's history, complete with a lovely illustration.

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