It’s come to this…. I’m posting an article from 1929 on my blog that I copied off of Facebook into an RTF because I want to put it somewhere that I can post to Pocket. While I listen to Spotify. I am too hooked in. Anyway…
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September 18, 1929
Resorts “Built on Sands” Have Passed Into Oblivion; Long Branch Alone Is Left
Long Line of Pleasure Places Have Risen, Flourished and Died Along Shore
of Onondaga Lake in Half Century
Those who have read their Bibles will remember the parable about the man who builded on the sand and the other who builded on a rock.
That parable has been applied many times to many things, as it was meant to be applied. Here it is applied to the Onondaga lake resorts.
After passing up those who built down along the lake shore, beginning at what used to be Lake View Point, that once beautiful body of water which laps the city on the north, it must be conceded that Bernhard (Bennie) Maurer had the right idea when he started his Long Branch resort high and dry on the outlet.
Fred Ganier began the Onondaga Lake summer resort business when he started development of Lake View Point in 1872, but he started at the wrong end. Ganier is gone, and Lake View Point is gone. Maurer opened Long Branch in 1882, and i still is going and growing. Ganier should have gone to the other end of the lake.
Lake View Point was a naturally beautiful spot. It was conspicuous by reason of its great trees and that it extended into the lake, where Nine Mile Creek empties and through the centuries had brought down the earth which created the Point. Then came the other resorts, Pleasant Beach, Rockaway Beach, Maple Bay and minor ones, names now forgotten.
Thirty years ago Pleasant Beach was “the” resort. It drew the crowds. The big picnics were held there. There are no such picnics any more. Automobiles and other things of a changed time have brought that about. An outing 40 years ago, and less, consisted of going “across the lake.” Every resort along the lake shore did a big business.
The beach at Pleasant Beach was the best on the lake, and there the bathers went. Now a person would need a bath after going into the lake.
The latest in amusement devices were the attractions at Maple Bay, roller coaster, miniature train and all that.
Rockaway Bech was the rendezvous of yachtsmen winter and summer. It was sort of a clubhouse, with the same fellows there almost daily when duties permitted it. There was much sailing on the lake in summer, with races and ice-boating in winter.
Up at Long Branch little Bennie Maurer kept pegging along. It was the place where Sunday school picnics were held. Some of the other resorts were not quite the places for Sunday school picnics. At some of them there was too much beer. Maurer’s Long Branch was always clean and quiet. Excursion boats plied the lake and the canals and emptied their loads at the Long Branch dock.
There were several steamboat piers along the lake. Boats ran regularly from Geddes pier and Salina pier, stopping at all lake resorts. There was a branch railway line which ran from West Genesee street up Lakeview avenue to the lake shore and Geddes pier, near where Harbor Brook empties into the lake.
Built Iron Pier
The railroad company built Iron Pier. It was a resort in itself, and it took much of the business of the other piers. The North Salina street car line ran to the pier.
The first lake shore boulevard was opened in 1894, and was used until 1902. It was builded on the sands. Spring high water washed it out every year. The toll gate at the side of Hiawatha boulevard and the trolley line are still there, but used for other purposes. The old boulevard bridge across Nine Mile Creek, where Lake View Point used to be, can be seen from the cars which run to Long Branch and Baldwinsville and beyond.
White City came and went. It was opposite the state fairgrounds, everything painted white, with myriads of electric lights, and enclosed by a white fence – but there wasn’t a shade tree anywhere. Its principal attraction was a chute-the-chutes by a boat into a tank of wear. It didn’t last long.
Canal Raised Water
Building of the Barge Canal raised the water in Onondaga Lake. The Solvay Process Company has been depositing its lime waste on the shores of the lake for more than 40 years. Business at the other resorts kept falling off as Long Branch gained in popularity and grew in amusements.
The city acquired Lake View Point with the intention of having a sewage treatment plant there. Instead, the city gave the Solvay company the use of Lake View Point as a dumping ground for its lime waste in return for the privilege of emptying sludge from the sewage treatment plant with the lime waste. The trees that used to stand like sentinels at Lake View Point were hewn, and the white terraces of lime waste are growing higher and higher where the first summer resort on Onondaga Lake was located.
A swamp with its reeds covers the place once called Maple Bay. The old buildings of Rockaway Beach are gone, and newer buildings have been built on higher ground. It has not grown.
There is yet a reminder of Pleasant Beach in the few buildings remaining, and now and then an outing is held there by a club or party which wants some place to itself. “Next door,” is the quite popular Hunters’ Club, where Mike Windhausen is mine host.
When the Liverpool car line was opened, it was thought the east short of the lake might be popularized, and the railway company got a right of way for a line around the lake almost to Long Branch, but the line wasn’t built.
The tornado of September 13, 1912 did great damage at Long Branch, taking many of the towering trees, but the resort came out of the wreckage of the storm bigger and better.
The yacht club on the lake shore, south of the fair grounds, came and went. It was for a time a popular resort in the days of sail boating and the beginning of the era of fast motor boating and the beginning of the era of fast water races. The club house was burned May 10, 1917.
Elmwood Park, now owned by the city, was once a popular summer resort, particularly after the building of the Elmwood car line. It was a park made by nature and by Furnace Brook, a picnic place on the Stolp estate years ago. It was conducted as a resort by William F. Pardee from 1890 to 1896. Billy McGlory came up from New York, invested a lot of money in swan boats, creation of a lake and amusement devices, but it didn’t last.
John Dunfee had money in the park, and in 1898 his nephew, Joseph Dunfee, became manager. He quit in 1903. Later Jack Boone revived it for a season, William J. Dwyer had the hole resort for 25 years, and in 1926 the city got it.
Pompey Hill and the Hill Top House drew people there for years. It was a nice drive from Syracuse. The air of the hill was considered much more healthful than that of Syracuse, and many people from the city went there.
Green Lake east of Fayetteville on the canal was a picnic resort, with excursions by boat from Syracuse. It is now a state park.
Chittenango Falls and Chittenango Springs drew visors from afar. The mineral waters of the springs resulted in construction of a hotel and bath-houses 50 years ago, but lack of patronage caused the enterprise to be abandoned and the buildings went to ruin.
Onondaga Valley and Hopper’s Glen drew many picnics. The glen was once a pretty place, and the Valley street car was run to the bottom of the Sanitorium hill, entrance of the glen. It is now a dumping place for waste material, thrown into the glen from the side of the Sanitorium hill road – Seneca Turnpike.
Fiddler’s Green and Lanark Falls on Butternut Creek north of Jamesville have been a picnic place for a century, but now fast waning as emptying of sewage into the creek increases. On August 1, 1903, the Jamesville branch of what was then the Syracuse & Suburban Railroad was opened, and that served for a long time to give impetus to the resort, always natural park.
South Bay came into the resort list when the opening of the railway line, but the great dreams for it faded. It did not have a beach.