Sunday, December 14, 2008

Save the English language

Started up a blog today about the slaughter of the English language. Well, slaughter might be a little extreme, but if you are tired of people butchering words ("looser," anyone?), phrases or any other aspect of English, you might want to check out The English Monitor.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Ghosts of Erie Beach

Yes, Halloween has passed. But ghosts, if one believes in them, should be present all year long.

So the question today is, who has seen any ghostly activity in Erie Beach?

While the area certainly lends itself to a great setting for a horror movie, from decaying concrete structures to the dark forest where one might fear to venture off the beaten path, I've never heard anyone speak of seeing ghosts there.

And while having walked through the area after dark many times, I've never seen any spirits (insert drinking joke here) there myself.

In his book, Shadows of Niagara, John Savoie writes about a number of sightings.

"Ghostly activity has been witnessed along the boardwalk and throughout the forest," he writes.

"One witness professed he had seen a woman wearing a long dress and hat appear in front of him walking along the boardwalk weeping and wiping tears from her eyes. She disappeared into a mist when he approached."

Anyone else out there have a ghostly experience at Erie Beach?

Please leave a comment or e-mail me.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Wreck on the beach

Been a long time since I've been out to the very end of the pier, let alone swimming in the area, but I don't recall any shipwrecks within spitting distance of the dock. However, an email this morning has me thinking.

Thomas wrote: "Years ago whilst fishing with my son just off the pier at Erie Beach, we drifted across what looked like the ribs from a ship. The water had just begun to clear with the advent of the Zebra mussels and said wreck was plain as day as we fished. I've never heard anyone mention it nor have I found any reference to it in any of the accounts of this area. I have included the link to a
Google sat-map of the spot for you ... As you can see from the photo, the hull was a fair size, of wooden construction [my observation] and having a pointed bow [possibly schooner turned barge]. I've lived here since 1969 and do not remember anything about it. I remember seeing a grounded and half sunk cabin cruiser that had washed into the rectangular cutout during a storm at Erie Beach [back in the seventies]."

Does anyone have information that can shed some light on this mystery? Please email me if you have something to share.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Four more years?

It may be an election year, north and south of the border, but after looking at the foundation of the swing ride this weekend, I'm betting the Erie Beach relic won't be standing four years from now.

Mother Nature (more so than kids who for decades have tried to knock the centre post) has taken a toll on the structure over the years. Have to dig up photos from last summer, but the ice surge during a storm in January seems to have knocked the middle out another couple of inches, ever closer to the inevitable tipping point.

Do you have photos of the structure, which dates back to the 1910s? I'd love to see how it looked throughout the years after the park closed. Please email me.

(note: I've called this the Lindy Loop in the past, which is incorrect. Erie Beach Amusement Park did have a Lindy Loop, which operated in the last two years of the park's existence, but it should not be confused with the swing ride).

Friday, September 12, 2008

Bull on the beach

After reading about a unique strength testing machine that once graced the midway at Erie Beach Amusement Park, took a trip yesterday to the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum.

There it was, standing out amid the fanciful, colorful horses, ostriches and frogs that bounced along merry-go-rounds at one point in their lives. A wooden bull. With a plug in its forehead.

This peculiar beast was designed by a Herschell carver in his spare time, a break from the usual painted ponies. As an amusement, it was a variant of the "ring the bell" type of game, where men would prove their strength by swinging a mallet over their head and strike the pivot hard enough to send an indicator up the pole and ring the bell atop it.

In this variant of the striking machine, men would swing a mallet (or fist?) at the plug. Hit it hard enough and the beast would buckle at the knees, similar to the way a cow would fall in a slaughterhouse.

It was acquired by the museum about 15 years ago from the employee's daughter.

"We have been told there is, or was, another one," said Chuck Proefrock, a volunteer at the museum. But they haven't been able to locate it yet.

There will be more about the bull in the Erie Beach book/DVD I am currently preparing.

The Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum is located at 180 Thompson St. in North Tonawanda, N.Y., about 10 minutes from any Canada-U.S. border crossing on the Niagara River. Well worth checking out if you have an interest in old amusement parks, especially good, old-fashioned merry-go-rounds. But the bull alone is worth the $5 admission price, plus you get a ride on the restored 1916 #1 Special carousel.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

A grand reopening

The grand opening of the Erie Beach section of the Friendship Trail on May 31 was a grand event. Dubbed Picnic in the Park, more than 100 people came out to check out the festivities, which featured a carousel, several displays and a barbecue, along with the usual parade of dignitaries. Jane Davies of the Fort Erie Historical Museum recounted the history of Fort Erie Grove and the old amusement park which stood on the site until 1930.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


(Town of Fort Erie press release)

May 26, 2008 - Run, bike or walk to Waverly Beach Park on Saturday, May 31 to celebrate the grand opening of the Erie Beach section of the Friendship Trail, and the completion of the Friendship Trail through Fort Erie.

As a reminder of the glory days of the Erie Beach Amusement Park in the 1920s, the theme of the celebration will be Picnic in the Park, featuring live music by the Can-Am Swing Band, free carousel rides, Fluffy the Clown, face painting, a barbecue, cotton candy, snow cones and a chance to win fabulous prizes.

“As part of the Region’s ‘Bike to Work - Bike to Get There’ program, we encourage people to ride their bicycles or walk the Friendship Trail to get to the opening on Saturday," said Manager of Parks and Open Space Development Signe Hansen, "And we will even be giving away two bikes, to encourage the use of the trail and an active lifestyle." The Bridgeburg Station, Ridgeway and Crystal Beach Business Improvement Areas have all chipped in for a bicycle to be given away as one of several prizes. The Fort Erie Community Credit Union has donated another bike prize.

Other event sponsors include Crown Amusements, M&M Meats, the Fort Erie Women’s Conservation Auxiliary, the Head Injury Association of Fort Erie, the Peace Bridge Authority, the Crystal Beach Candy Co., Sobey’s and Joe’s Valu-Mart.

“We invite you to bring your family to celebrate the history of our community and enjoy the music, food and activities at this magnificent setting along Lake Erie”, said Mayor Douglas Martin. “Experience Fort Erie’s picturesque neighbourhoods, natural areas, historic districts and exquisite waterfront by walking, running, biking, rollerblading or skiing the Friendship Trail”.

"This section of the Friendship Trail has a very interesting history and is an important part of what defined Fort Erie," said Jane Davies, administrator-curator of the Fort Erie Museum. "People would come here for organized picnics and other events, or just to enjoy themselves on the waterfront." In addition to a fabulous vista of Lake Erie, one can see the remaining structures from a long-gone era when vacationers flocked to the Erie Beach Amusement Park.

The Friendship Trail makes an important contribution to improving the quality of life in Fort Erie, undoubtedly being one of Fort Erie’s most utilized and recognized recreational amenities – a first-class trail network that connects residents and visitors alike to various attractions and services throughout the community, as well as to Niagara Falls and Port Colborne.

The opening ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. with festivities to follow. Waverly Beach Park is located near the intersection of Helena Street and Edgemere Road, on the Lake Erie waterfront.

Friday, April 18, 2008

New site devoted to old parks in Niagara

Ken Jones and the Amusement Park Historical Association of Niagara have launched a new website, Niagara's Lost Amusement Parks.

The site will soon feature a section on Erie Beach, but for now has sections on Maple Leaf Village Park, Tower View Amusement Park, Whitewater Park and Wet And Wild/Prudhomme's Landing.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Cool breezes at Erie Beach

Daytime temperatures may be in the double digits regularly now that April is here, but there's still no shortage of ice along the Lake Erie shoreline to help cool breezes. Photo taken from ice along west side of old pier.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Down by the pool

More photos of the ice forced up on the Lake Erie shore during a late January storm, this time showing the giant swimming pool (last summer above, this winter below).

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Don't swim in the deep end

Ice fills the old pool (northwest corner above can be seen in upper right of Google map) following last month's storm which drove ice right up to (and onto, as pictured in this post) the new boardwalk and promenade.

The Erie Beach pool was once billed as the world's largest and constructed because of a lack of sand on the rocky Lake Erie shoreline at the mouth of the Niagara River.

View Larger Map

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Path of destruction

Last summer (above) before the work to recreated the promenade at Erie Beach, the old concrete at the Bardol end of the walk was busted up, the accumulation of years of Old Man Winter's wrath, plus some help from man. After the late January storm which forced tons of ice up on the shore, the scene is eerily reminiscent of the old days.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Ice for the ages

The Jan. 30 storm which pushed up ice along Lake Erie's north shoreline remains evident today. The above photo shows what it looks like when about 7 feet of ice pushes up around the foundation of the Lindy Loop ride. Below is a photo from mid-summer from about the same angle.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Rival path

More than half of this concrete sidewalk (first one north of the reconstructed promenade) has been covered over the years with sand, dirt and decaying leaves. While the south side (left) is crumbling away more and more each year, there is an equal amount of concrete under the leaves on the north (right) side of the path. And of course, trees have grown through cracks over the past 77 years and now stand in the middle of the path in some sections.