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Sanatoga Park: Long history as recreation hub

October 9, 2010

Due to its unique natural setting, Sanatoga Park has traditionally been a popular gathering place for recreation and outdoor activities. It’s only appropriate, then, to start off this review by letting readers know about Lower Pottsgrove’s upcoming Fall Festival on Sunday, October 24th. Hayrides, a children’s show, games and a costume contest will take place in the upper level of the park next to the tot lot, starting at 1 p.m.

So, how do you get there? Plug the addresses below into your GPS or mapping program, or simply turn at Cutillo’s Restaurant, or onto S. Park Drive directly across from Sanatoga Corporation Appliance Specialists. You will soon get to the park. If you’ve come in past Cutillo’s, you will first see the lake on your right and then the hill with the bandshell, parking, basketball hoop and pavilion on your left. A driveway leads up the hill to a flat area that includes playing fields and a playground.

The playing fields are pretty impressive. Rodney Hawthorne, Township Manager explained that both have sprinkler systems. Re-design plans are in the works to make  the baseball field a suitable venue for larger tournaments in the area. For example, if Ursinus College or Boyertown were having a tournament and needed another field/venue, the Sanatoga Park field would meet regulations and could be an economic development generator for the Township. At this point, though, the $1.5 million needed to do the improvements is not available.

I vaguely recalled that Sanatoga Park was a big draw for outdoor fun a long time ago, so I pulled out one of my history books. In consulting my trusty “A History of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, 1752-1952,” I found this:

“In the late 19th centrury, when transportation was limited and Pottstown was still a relatively small town, two parks were established for what was then a picnic trip ‘to the country.’ The growth of both Sanatoga and Ringing Rocks Parks was stimulated by electric street railways which established special service to both places. Going to either place in the open ‘summer’ cars was quite a frolic…

At Sanatoga the lure was that of a lake for boating, roller coasters, merry-go-roudns, and similar attractions. As noted above, Sanatoga Park also became noted for its automobile race track. In fact, stock car races are the only real attraction there now, for several years ago the amusements were discontinued.”

I imagine that the area now used for athletic events was once the racetrack, and would certainly appreciate any readers chiming in with any further history on that.

Sanatoga Park remains a hub of community activity for events such as the Fall Festival described above, an annual fishing derby in June, and a summer concert series, sponsored by Lower Pottsgrove Township and Exelon. On most Sunday evenings, starting at 6 pm, in late June through August, the sounds of polka, jazz, folk and rock can be enjoyed from the lawn in front of the bandshell. To see the program lineup from this past summer, check out the Township webpage here, where you can also keep an eye out for announcements about future events. And if you or your organization would like to sponsor an event, contact the Township at 610-323-0436.

And that wraps it up for Lower Pottsgrove… Many thanks to Mr. Hawthorne for taking the time to fill me in every time I called. 🙂 On to Upper Pottsgrove tomorrow!

SANATOGA PARK

Location: 223 S. Sanatoga Road or 200 S. Sanatoga Park Drive, Sanatoga, PA 19464. If you’re coming from Pottstown, turn right at Cutillo’s Restaurant.

Size: 54 acres

Suitability: All ages for numerous music, community and athletic events

Facilities: Lake, boat ramp, fishing, amphitheater/bandshell, restrooms, pavilion, basketball hoop, soccer & baseball fields, paved track around baseball field, wooded areas, playground, parking.

Activities + tips:  Keep up with events at Sanatoga Park by checking the Township website.

Hours: Dawn until dusk, extended for community events.

Lower Pottsgrove Township has lots of information and photos on their website, which is http://www.lowerpottsgrove.org. Just click on the Parks & Recreation tab on the left side of the home page.

Contact:
Lower Pottsgrove Township
2199 Buchert Road
Pottstown, PA 19464
Ph: (610) 323-0436
Fax: (610) 323-3824
Hours: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. M-F

Follow the parks series at Mission: Healthy Living, Positively!Pottstown, Twitter (PositivelyPtown), Facebook, and The Mercury.

PHOTO GALLERY

Hoop & parking


Bandshell


Baseball field


Sanatoga Park bleachers



Tot Lot

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8 Comments
  1. Laura Catalano permalink
    October 11, 2010 10:23 am

    I’ve really been enjoying this blog. I had no idea there were so many interesting parks in the area!

  2. Ronald C . Downie permalink
    October 14, 2010 8:15 am

         The Park

    Marble sized for giants – whose
    Muscles lugged huge stones here ,
    Epoch sung through harmonic echoes ,
    Waiting with hammer and an ear ?

    Glacier droppings thawed to earth
    In retreat of Ice Age nights ,
    Was Hudson Bay their place of birth
    Under Aurora Borealis lights ?

    Bare footed , shirtless , agile 
    Rock climbers scout to find
    Cave caverns and weathered fossil
    Prints of what beastly kind .

    Zig zag stairs to the tower ,
    Which commands a southern view ,
    Potts’s dream , factory power ,
    Blue collar through and through .

    They board to ride steel ribbons
    Through fields of yellow and green ,
    Their voices join track rhythms ,
    Up hills , blue skies , at pleasures dream .

    Round and round swiftly sweep 
    Four roller shoes , they in circles flow
    To ebony platters etched needle deep 
    Of organ music for their graceful show .

    People recreate at Nature’s door :
    Wooded oak hill of ringing rock ,
    Pavilion roofed with hardened floor ,
    Strengths of family from human stock .

    At ” This Wonder Of The World ”
    Which Ripley took time to note –
    All the Twentieth Century unfurled –
    May memories stir by this that I wrote .

    ( Ringing Rocks Park , Lower Pottsgrove Township ,Montgomery County )

             Ronald C. Downie

    I wrote this poem 20 years ago when I wanted to record where we played in the mid-1940’s.
    The park was closed a decade earlier but this didn’t deter me and my friends from enjoying what was still left even if it was , as the tower stairs, fenced off .

    • October 14, 2010 9:08 am

      This is just wonderful, Mr. Downie. I am so glad you wrote this 20 years ago, when memories of sound, sensation and view were more vivid than they might be today. 🙂 As a memoirist & essayist, this is always a struggle for me – to capture the past in words. Your poem really does evoke a young man’s sense of adventure and the human need to be in touch with nature and to recreate together as a community, especially those who have labored hard all week… “blue collar through and through.”

      Could I cut and paste this and put it on the blog as a post, where more people are likely to see it? Thank you for sending it along. Sue

  3. Ronald C . Downie permalink
    October 14, 2010 11:49 am

    Yes , you may post . Thank you , Sue , Ron.

  4. Tyler Schumacher permalink
    February 1, 2011 12:10 pm

    ( Sorry If this is a late comment, I stumbled across this post on google ) I’ve been researching the history of Sanatoga Park for years now, and its quite interesting. The Roller Coaster that was here was one of the First Wooden Roller Coasters in the US. It was called Alpine Dips, and was nearly a Mile long, and cost over $100,000 dollars (Back in the 1920s, that was a ton of money) There are pictures of the coaster on the Sanatoga Historical Society Webpage. Also, another key point of the park was the Auditorium Building, which was an amazing building with a hardwood dance floor, and a stage. Many famous bands played in the Auditorium over the years. When the park closed in 1946, they left the Auditorium rot away. But in the early 1950s, 2 teenagers set the building on fire. There are still foundations of the whole park in the woods. You can see the foundations of the Auditorium, the roller coaster station, and the trolley station.

    • February 1, 2011 2:08 pm

      Not too late at all, Tyler! The next time I’m there, I will definitely be looking for the foundations of those old structures — pretty cool. Thanks for the info!

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