Glen Park lies on the border of the Towns of Brownville
and is immediately north of Watertown
Glen Park took its name from the amusement park across the river (see Glen Park Amusement Park
below), as the village had previously been known as "Jim Wood's Falls" or just "Wood's Falls". The original name was named after Jim Wood, an original settler who came from New Hampshire in 1804. Jim Wood and his sons built a large two-story stone building, which is still standing, as well as a saw mill and had nearly completed a large mill in Glen Park when a Spring flood washed away the mill, the dam, and his saw mill. Glen Park's name could have been changed because there was another Wood's Mills
in Jefferson County at the time.
Sometime between 1884 and 1893 C.R. Remington and his family incorporated a paper mill business, with a capital of $225,000 (see photo and more info at the bottom of this page). The village was incorporated in 1893, at the offices of the C.R. Remington & Sons Paper Mill during a special meeting.
After C.R. Remington and Sons started their paper mill business they constructed a dam (210 feet long with 13 gates)
across the Black River at Glen Park, as well as a paper mill (to see photos of the ruins of the C.R. Remington Paper Mill go to this site
and this site
) and another one further down the river. Milo L. Cleveland and his company built the mill for Remington; Cleveland's company also built the Opera House
and the former Cleveland Building
The first mill (seen in pictures below) was completed on January 1st, 1889. Milo L. Cleveland and his company built the mill for Remington, Cleveland's company also built the Opera House, The Elks Building, and the former Cleveland Building in Watertown.
On March 1st, 1891 the machinery in the mill was shut down for repairs and high water almost completely destroyed the mill; scattered equipment and collapsed the roof and some of the walls. The collapse also injured one man and killed another; John Murphy, aged 65 or 68. Damage was estimated at about $50,000 to $75,000 and would take four months to repair. After eighteen years of operation the mill was sold to the International Paper Company in 1899.
Later another paper mill down-river a short distance was built by the Ontario Paper Company.
|The remains of the C.R. Remington Paper Mill in Glen Park|
A new high school was built in 1956 near Dexter for the 1954 merger of the Brownville-Glen Park and Dexter school districts (see General Brown Central School). This was enlarged in 1960 and the elementary school in Brownville was enlarged in 1964, later the Brownville elementary school was again enlarged and the older Brownville school building was demolished.
Nearby is Brownville and Watertown.
(To see more photos of the ruins of the C.R. Remington Paper Mill go to this page and this page)
Glen Park Amusement Park
About 1891 a recreational center was built across from Glen Park (Wood's Mills at the time) on the opposite side of the river from where the village is now. This was known as the "Coney Island of the North Country
" and had been built by the Watertown and Brownville Street Railway Company, headed by Lincoln G. DeCant. A three-hundred foot iron bridge was built across the river by the Springfield Iron Works of Springfield, MA and the amusement park itself was built in a grove of trees, making a natural amphitheater. The hillside was terraced and seats were placed there, and in 1895 a pavilion fifty feet by a hundred was built. The closed opera house was said to have a balcony and could seat eight to nine hundred people and the open opera house has a canvas around it. A sulfur well was also on the grounds, and was said to be as black as ink and which people from all over came to drink from; supposedly for health reasons.
The Red and Black Football Team
played at the football field in the park until the team moved its games to the fairgrounds in Watertown
. At one time the Red and Black Football Team
played a championship there and won twenty-three to zero, with five thousand spectators watching. Lacrosse was also played on the field, including a number of Canadians teams and some American Indians teams.
Traveling shows stopped at the Glen Park amusement park and the Watertown
city band played there. The park was equipped with electric lights, as well as some of the cave system. The merry-go-round was electric, possibly the first or a very early iteration of the electric version. A ferris wheel may also have been at the park.
A tower, eighty feet tall, was built and several acts performed there over the years. One by a man named Harry Gilford who rode off the tower into a tank of water, one-legged and another, a Mr. Smith, would soak himself in gasoline and run through flames, jumping off into a tank of water. These acts were traveling acts that toured the US and would perform each year.
Another act to perform was a tightrope act. A cable was strung over the river, attached from the highest window in the mill to the bank on the other side (there is a reference that perhaps the mount on the stone can still be found) and a tightrope artist performed his act over the running waters. The man put a cheese box around his legs for the act and offered anyone fifty dollars to allow him to carry them across - no one ever took him up on the offer. His last performances was while performing at Niagara Falls on a tightrope, the lights went out and he fell to his death.
A switch-back rail way was built also, which is similar to the roller coaster concept but made of a straight track with a steep grade, with a turn-around at the end.
At one time another cable was strung across from one side to the other and people could rent a small skiff to cross over the river to the other side. This was discontinued when a skiff jumped the cable and went over the falls and at least one death occurred, possibly an entire family.
Glen Park Amusement Park Caves
Caves under the park also were a big attraction, with floors being built in them as well as stairs and electric lights strung. The caves probably were discovered in 1822 and for a short time were exhibited for a fee. L.H. Everts and J.M. Holcomb's book History of Jefferson County
relates that the caves formed an intricate labyrinth, leading in all directions and with some passages connecting back to other ones, and large mineral deposits in many places. Even during that period it was related that many of these mineral deposits had been destroyed or taken by visitors. Another account compares some of the system to city streets with cross streets connecting them. But in some places large stoneshas fallen over times, revealing other chambers and sometimes creating 'columns' of stone. Streams and springs also could be seen travelling through the cave system. One reference mentions that some of the 'avenues' were large enough to drive a horse and buggy through (Haddock's History of Jefferson County
There were eight to fifteen flights of stairs down into the cave system, averaging twelve to seventeen feet long, and wooden benches were situated through the cave system with picnic tables on the third floor where people would have their lunches in the cooler temperatures of the cave during Summer months. A total of thirty marriages were performed in the caves over the years.
The cave in modern times seems to have collapsed, but the occasional spelunker can still go inside, though it is dangerous and is not advised. The land is all private property.
Glen Park Amusement Park Diagram
- three-hundred foot bridge (1)
- soda parlor (2)
- pop corn and peanut stand (3)
- hot dog stand (4)
- closed opera house (5)
- photo-tinning shop (6)
- an open-air opera house (7)
- switch-back rail way (8)
- cave (9)
- sulfur well (10)
- the football and baseball field (11)
- tower of eighty feet (12)
- Remington Mill (13)
- balloon ascensions (14)
The three-hundred foot bridge stood until 1904 when spring floods and ice flows washed it away (ruins of the support for the footbridge can still be seen - a photo is on this page
The loss of the bridge, Watertown Trolley Company discontinuing service to Glen Park, and the opening of Thompson Park
signaled the demise of the amusement park, which quickly died sometime right before the first World War.
The land was sold to a local farmer for use as a pasture and some of the area is presently being used by the Jefferson County Industrial Park