Newton Lake Park

Newton Lake Park, located along the lake bearing its name in Greenfield Township, opened in 1917. The 50 acre park was built and owned by Frank Bernhardt Wagner, and was one of the few parks of that era that was not located along a trolley or railroad line. Wagner bet on the beauty of the lake and the improvement of roads and automobiles for his park’s success.

Rides at the park throughout the years included a miniature railroad, whip, hey dey, dodgems, ferris wheel (which carried the serial number 003), boat rides, several kiddie rides, a 50 passenger show boat, carousel, and roller coaster.

The carousel was previously at Lake Lodore Park, which closed in 1915. It sported 48 hand carved wooden figures, and was constructed in Austria in 1881. It was reported to be only one of three of its kind in the world.

In 1919, an 80 foot by 90 foot dance pavilion was constructed with ‘bridge-type loins’. In 1924, it was remodeled, and a 6 foot wide promenade was added.

The roller coaster was built in 1924, and had a very unique track system. A six inch wide and four inch tall ‘T’ shaped iron rail ran along the center, which held the coaster cars on the track. To remove the cars from track for maintenance, a section of the track would have to be removed. The track design was an out and back type through wooded terrain along the lake, and the lift hill chain was powered by a one horse power diesel engine.

There was at least one fatality on the ride when a man unlocked the safety chain and stood up on the ride.

As time went on, Wagner was joined in managing the park by his son Franklin E. Wagner, and also Paul ’Doc’ Stenson. Bands played music in the dance hall, while the crowds poured in for different Sunday School picnics, church outings, and reunions, and special events like the ‘Miss Anthracite’ beauty contest. The park bottled its own soda and made its own ice cream, along with the other standard concessions.

The park was advertised in the Scranton newspapers frequently. In one ad, park management thanked the 75,000 people who spent the 4th of July at the park, shattering previous records at ‘Lackawanna County’s Lake Resort’.

One popular annual event was ‘Kids Day’, sponsored by the city of Carbondale. Any kind of truck, including coal company dump trucks, brought kids to the park for a day of food and fun.

The roller coaster closed in 1952, possibly due to a hurricane, but more likely because the aging roller coaster did not comply with safety standards - such as having a catwalk along the tracks - and declining attendance left little funds to bring it up to spec.

Newton Lake Park continued to decline, and eventually Anna Wagner, daughter of Franklin B., took over ownership, likely after his death. After operating the park for several years, she leased the park to others.

In November of 1976, Anna Wagner sold the park to Newton Lake Park Estates, Inc. for $75,000. The following June, Thomas J. Kenney, former operator of the park and new owner, announced the park was closing to the public. Kenney wanted to create a 16 million dollar development, including townhouses, a theatre in-the-round, greyhound track, hotel, and heliport. However, the project never came to fruition.

The buildings were demolished and the rides were sold shortly after closing. The c. 1881 carousel may have went to Marriott’s Great America in Santa Clara, California.

Information obtained from Northeastern Pennsylvania, Feb. 17, 1982; Amusement Parks of Pennsylvania, by Jim Futrell; and Ken's Classic Postcards.

NEPA Defunct Park List

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