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Paxtang Park
Harrisburg, Dauphin County, PA

by John R. Moyer


Warning: all photos are copyrighted

Opened: 1893

Closed: 1929

Location: Derry Street to Paxton Street, Paxtang

Remains: Public park area

Trolley Park: yes

Article - see credits below

 The Park - by John R. Moyer

Paxtang Park was a trolley park established in 1893 by the Harrisburg Railways Co. It originally encompassed some 40 acres extending from Derry Street to Paxton Street, and including a lengthy stretch of Spring Creek. Much of that land was leased for thirty years from the Rutherford estate. The area near the park was developed into a residential community during the first decades of the 20th century, and incorporated as the Borough of Paxtang in 1914. In 1906, the trolley company constructed an underpass to eliminate the at-grade crossing with the Reading Railroad track. In its early days, the park included a zoo, lake, picnic grove and vaudeville theatre, along with amusement rides. The first roller coaster, a figure-eight named the Coaster Flyer, was built by the T.M. Harton Company in 1905. A carousel was also among the early rides. In 1911, the old pavilion was replaced.

With the lease due to expire in 1923 and increased competition from other local parks, Harrisburg Railways announced its intention to close the park after the 1922 season. In August of 1922, however, Thomas Kerstetter obtained an option to take over the park. Kerstetter, of Newark, New Jersey, owned or operated a number of concessions at parks throughout the Northeast. Kerstetter immediately announced improvements for the park, including replacement of the aging figure 8 coaster with a new roller coaster. When the park opened for the 1923 season, it proudly sported the Jack Rabbit, a coaster designed by John Miller and built by Miller & Baker, with Kerstetter himself as construction supervisor. The Jack Rabbit crossed Spring Creek four times. Other new rides included a steel Ferris Wheel and a Circle Swing ride.

By 1929, the park also included an outdoor whip and a skooter or bumper car ride as well as a restaurant, shooting gallery, penny arcade and other games. The 1929 season was the last for the park, probably due to the depression. In 1930, Dauphin County purchased 8 acres of the former amusement park from the Rutherford Estate, a small portion of which remains as public park with a small, modern era picnic pavilion. Much of the remainder of the park land was covered by Interstate 83, while portions on the south side of Spring Creek were developed into commercial property and an apartment complex.

John R. Moyer, 1999

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 Warning: all photos are copyrighted - DO NOT COPY

Defunct Amusement Parks wishes to thank everyone listed above for sharing their information