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Crescent Park lives on

Thursday, July 24, 2014 - Updated: 8:33 AM

By JACQUELINE MURPHY

For The Recorder

The Mohawk Valley was a beehive of activity in the year 1914. Conrad Snyder purchased the "Kitty West," a 57-foot-by-14-foot canal boat that accommodated 100 passengers for Mohawk River cruises. (A replica of this craft may be seen in the Old Court House, Fonda). But this was not the highlight of spanking new recreational venues. According to Hugh Donlon in a Sept. 17, 1964, article in The Recorder:

"Crescent Park was opened on Memorial Day 1914. It coincided with the annual field day of the L.O.O.M. and the Moose Band paraded on East Main Street before members of the fraternal order boarded trolleys for the new park.

"The attractions were numerous and the charge was moderate, to put it mildly. A nickel was needed for the trolley ride, and another nickel admitted one to the park. According to the opening day reports, about 7,000 attended, this figure probably including the juniors who came in over the fence.

"One of the big features was the dance hall, presided over by Prof. Charles F. Dolan and the music by Maney's Orchestra. There was a shooting gallery, and a motion picture theater managed by George Christman. Henry Siples had charge of the boating and bathing on 'Lake Crescent,' a miniature railroad offered 'a trip through the virgin pines,' according to the promotional come-on.

"William Nevins was supposed to have charge of the merry-go-round, a super-duper type with jumping horses, but the animals must have jumped before the entertainment gadget reached Amsterdam because it did not arrive for opening day.

"The park restaurant was operated by John McNally, "the night lunch king," whose downtown wagons at the Market and Main and Church and Main corners turned out western egg sandwiches the likes of which was not to be found in the entire U.S.A. William E. McCaffrey had charge of the soft drink stand and P.J. Quinn headed the sales force for popcorn, peanuts and Cracker Jack.

"Mayor James R. Cline threw out the first ball for the opening game at the park, in which the famed Empires were opposed by the Philadelphia Giants, one of the best negro organizations of the time."

Crescent Park gave way to a new owner, and a new name, Jollyland, in 1923. Although the Jollyland Corp. dissolved, its name lingered into the late 1930s. The Mohawk Mills Association held many of its events at the park. In 1938, the Rugmaker baseball franchise was introduced, which became very popular with the locals. After the team dissolved local baseball teams utilized the diamond.

In 1964, Herbert L. Shuttleworth II donated the Mohawk Mills Park to the city. A score of years later it was named in honor of its benefactor. In 1969, the town of Amsterdam allowed annexation to the city land of the park that spread over the town line.

Revitalization of the area came in 2003 when the Mohawk baseball team found its way onto the ball field and continues today.

To honor the centennial of the opening of Crescent Park, the Historic Amsterdam League commissioned a historical marker, imprinted on dual sides, that tells much of the story just related. Previous to the opening of the ball game this Friday, a brief ceremony will reveal the purple and gold commemoration of the park's history. Historic Amsterdam League members will be admitted with their card.

     

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