C H A U T A U Q U A    C O U N T Y

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THE BEGINNING
Captain de Blainville Celoron, a chevalier (French noble) of the Order of St. Louis, was given the task of re-establishing France's claim to the watershed of the Ohio River Valley, a claim originally made by another Frenchman, LaSalle.

In 1749, Celoron set sail from Canada with his force of 214 soldiers and 55 Indian allies, landing near present day Barcelona, NY.  He then pushed over the difficult portage to the head of Chautauqua Lake, where he arrived on July 22nd.  On his arrival, he and his companions must have been impressed with the lovely and tranquil scene as it appeared on that summer day.

The next day he embarked.  His fleet of bark canoes passed maple groves and the wild deer straying from the deep forest depths to sniff the cool breezes of the lake.  He passed the narrows of the lake and passed into the broad expanse of the lower lake, and encamped for the night upon the shore three miles above the outlet, a place which 150 years later would come to bear his name.

This new village was once known as Sammis Bay, named after an early settler Charles Wheeler Sammis, and was renamed after a second settler Joseph Burtis, who purchased the most southern bay of the lake, and in the mid-1870's with the purchase by James Prendergast, a member of Jamestown's founding family, became known as Prendergast Point.  In 1896 the village was incorporated and named Village of Celoron.  To this day, the bay to the west still retains the name Burtis Bay.



PARK OVERVIEW - This overview is not a picture; rather an artist's drawing.  Please note the structure in the
upper-right with the Turkish-style spires and long Annex ending in a bandstand - - this is the Auditorium.  Also
in the right of the drawing at the water's edge is the three-story Bathhouse with three toboggan slides; one of
which is the camel-back slide.  The Phoenix Ferris Wheel is to the left with Hotel de Celoron barely visible
behind the right side of the wheel with a flag banner protruding from its top.  The baseball grounds are beyond
the Aduitorium.  The Celoron Theater and the Greyhound rollercoaster were not yet in the park.


HOTEL DE CELORON - One of the original structures of the park in 1994.  It was three stories, very ornate, and 100 square feet with 36 rooms.  It was damaged by the fire in 1902 and was destroyed by fire in 1914.


BASEBALL GROUNDS - One of the original structures of the park in 1894, this was the primary site for local baseball.  It hosted boxing matches, football, lacrosse, cricket, and soccer games.  Hosted most every major league professional baseball team of the day, and special athletes like Jim Thorpe and Babe Ruth. Closed after the 1939 season.


PHOENIX WHEEL - First operated in the 1986 season.  This was the world's largest - ten stories tall with 12 cages and a capacity of 168.  125 feet in diameter and took six men to operate.  Lit by 350 colored lights.  Dismantled in 1952.


GREYHOUND ROLLER COASTER -
Opened in 1924, this all-woodin roller coaster had three loops and 6,000 lights.  It was destroyed by a tornado in 1959.

PARK HISTORY
1874: James Prendergast purchased 67 acres of land at a point on the southeastern end of Chautauqua Lake, adjacent to Burtis Bay, soon to be renamed Prendergast Point

1879: James Prendergast dies intestate

1880: Alexander T. Prendergast, son of James, deed the property to his wife Mary

1891: The sale of the property called Prendergast Point from the estate of Mary A. Prendergast to a group of businessmen know as Lindsay and Lindsay, who renamed the area Celoron, after the French explorer, and formed the Celoron Land Company

1893: The Celoron Land Company and the Jamestown Street Railway Company join to form the Celoron Amusement Company and name Almet N. Broadhead, President

1894: Almet N. Broadhead, President of the Celoron Amusement Company opens, the new resort for the first time.  At its Grant Opening, the new park was called "The People's Park at Celoron"


The early growth and its long-term access can be attributed to the early years' dedication of three men: Almet N. Broadhead, President; George Maltby, Supervisor; and Jules Delmar, Manager.

President A.N. Broadhead was guided by, and maintained in the operation of Celoron Park the three following principles:
    1. Never compromise nor lower the standards that would diminish the integrity of the park; the park is for the people and they expect a respectable musement
    2. Be prepared for change and addition; provide a reason for the people to return time after time
    3. Create an open-air picnic area; allow for a holiday atmosphere for the pleasure seakers


BATHHOUSE - One of the original structures in 1894, it as three stories tall with three toboggan slides, one
being a camel-back slide.  Inside the Bathhouse was a barbershop, 150 dressing rooms, bowling alley,
billiards room, shooting gallery, ice-cream palor, and a large open recreation area.  Damaged by a fire in 1900,
the Bathhouse, when repaired, was three stories only in the middle and the signature camel-back slide was gone.


Prior to its opening, the Jamestown Newspaper carried the following article:
"The Grand Opening to Take Place.  A playground for Jamestown and all creation.  It will have all the wonders of electricity and this giant toboggan slide, magic, mirth and soft drinks on tap, shoes every thirty minutes.  President A.N. Broadhead of the Celoron Amusement Company has returned from Tidewater where he purchased a huge searchlight, let contracts and studied ways of entertaining the great people of Atlantic City, Coney Island, and other of the many headed throngs.  All his plans are not unfolded, he is confident of making a joyous season at Chautauqua's chief amusement point.  All points on the lake and numerous excursions will be contributed to making Celoron the liveliest place in Western New York.  Unlike many popular resorts, however, this one will be entirely free from objectionable features so that there will be harmless amusement fall all."

At the Park's opening, things were spectacular.  People were in search of entertainment and Celoron Park provided that as well as opportunities for the entire family.  The construction of four major hotels and as many as fifteen additional smaller rooming houses provided rooms for those who traveled a distance.  The combination of local and national athletic events on the baseball grounds, the top-rated amusement rides of the day, and best-quality musical and vaudeville performers brought the people to Celoron.  The best facilities, the best attractions, the Bathhouse and bathing beach, and family picnic areas made Celoron Park the top amusement park between New York City and Chicago.


AUDITORIUM - Opened in 1895 - Turkish-type spires that were five stories tall.  It seated 8,500 and was used
as a meeting hall, convention center, dance hall, and roller rink.  In the winter, the floors of the Auditorium and the
Annex were flooded and used for ice skating and speed skating. Destroyed by fire in 1920.


The life of the park - the years in which the park grew and prospered.  The years from its opening until about the beginning of World War II and the years I call the "Heydays".

The years starting with the beginning of World War II and ending the Park's closing in 1962 are the years I call the "Decline".


CELORON THEATER - Opened in 1897 and extended out over the water and was 168 feet longs x 82 feet wide
x 40 feet high.  It served as the primary site for stage performances and vaudeville acts from 1987 - 1924.  It was
converted for dancing and renamed the Pier Ballroom until it was destroyed by fire in 1930.


Without question, each of these large time spans can be and are, divided into smaller time periods and are defined by events and/or activities of the period.  To acquire a more complete view of the Village of Celoron and the growth of Celoron Park, visit the Fenton Historical Society in Jamestown, NY and the Celoron Historical Society in Celoron, NY.

Also read "Celoron Park on Chautauqua Lake" by Thomas J. Goodwill or the soon-to-be-in print book, "The Great Celoron Park" by John M. Keeney.

The years of success of the Park (1894-1962), were not just due to the principles of its first President A.N. Broadhead.  The Park had the most grand structures, the most modern and exciting amusements; they had under contract the best entertainment and provided the most varied list of activities.