ABOVE - Main Road, Sacandaga Park, circa 1905, looking strangely depopulated for a resort. The white boarding house-restaurant may have been affiliated with the Osbourn Inn, a grand Adirondack hotel on Lake Pleasant at Speculator.

Today Main Road is 200 yards of steeply-sloping blacktop which dead ends beside Great Sacandaga Lake. A modern building housing the popular "Sport Island Pub" now largely occupies the sites of "The Hampton" and "Osbourn House".

BELOW - The green building at the top of the slope in the 1905 view sparkles with new white paint in the summer of 2001.

It must have been wonderful.

After 5 weekdays and a half-Saturday of cutting deerskin gloves, humping barrels of tanning chemicals, or scraping the hair off hides, Sacandaga Park was just 25 cents and a 45 minute train ride from the pavements of Gloversville. Here a nickel or dime bought a ride on the carousel or roller coaster high as a three story house. There were donkey rides on wooded trails, and a giant Panama Slide from the cliff above the Sacandaga River lagoon. There was even a "Mush Pit" where bent wicker benches on secluded paths offered so much more privacy than the crannys of a wooden milltown tenement.

Sacandaga Park got its unlikely start as a summer temperance tent camp just after the Civil War. By the 1870s, a rail line connected the Village of Northville on the opposite bank of the Sacandaga to the City of Gloversville. The railroad added a platform and laid out a picnic ground at Sacandaga Park. It reportedly took a short time for the Germanic Friendship Society picnickers and their lager barrels to rout the temperance campers.

The railroad expanded its holdings and built cabins, followed by a magnificent inn which mixed high Victorian and traditional Adirondack style in 1889.

Sacandaga Park prospered with the region's factories and carpet mills, despite 11 major fires which destroyed almost every early building except the inn. After the "Great Fire" of 1898, which destroyed all but 5 of 100 summer cottages, the railroad rebuilt on a grander scale. A full-scale midway featured the carousel and roller coaster, as well as a minature steam train connecting the riverside amusements with the baseball field and picnic grounds on "Sport Island".

Ironically, water succeeded where fire had failed. With a few years of the park's reconstruction, plans were afoot to dam the Sacandaga River as flood protection for the cities below its junction with the Hudson.

By the mid-1920s, New York State had purchased or condemned most of the land on the Sacandaga Valley floor. In 1929 rising waters of what was originally called the Sacandaga Resevoir spelled the end for Sport Island, the low-lying midway, and the Northville railroad line. The resort hotels on higher ground stayed open for many years after the park closed. The last survivor, the railroad's own Adirondack Inn, burned to the ground in 1975.

Today none of Sacandaga's amusements survive, other than the golf course, which opened in 1898. However, many fragments of the park can be glimpsed on a casual stroll through what is now the community of Sacandaga Park. They include several pine-shaded streets of cottages built in the style of three-quarter scale Victorian houses, as well as some of the boarding houses that catered to the overnight vistor trade.

But perhaps the most dramatic reminder of what once was is the Fonda, Johnstown, and Gloversville Railroad's Sacandaga Park Station. Stranded when the rails were torn out for scrap, the station had served as a stable and vending machine company warehouse, as well as the residence of a sculptor named Faust, who surrounded it with a magnificent art park filled with his own works. A couple of years ago, it was almost purchased by a developer who reportedly wished to turn the site into a trailer park. But this proposal was rejected, and the station is now being restored by its eventual purchaser in a rare happy ending to such a tale.