Fun at the Beach


The first bridge over Wood Creek at Sylvan Beach, shown here in a 1905 photograph, replaced the private ferry services that connected Sylvan and Verona beaches.

[In 1907, at the apex of its Golden Age, Sylvan Beach boasted] eleven living hotels, twelve respectable boarding houses, three hundred and sixty home-1ike cottages, three boat liveries for aqua cruising as well as angling, electric lights courtesy of Cottmam’s power plant and, more importantly, people to fill and use these facilities.

Looking down the beach from the point near today’s Canal View Restaurant, we gaze at the seemingly endless broad promenade, the boardwalk, stretching from the
Leland Hotel which, by the way, was established in 1896 by Charles Scoville and operates its own steamer, the Lottie, to the elegant Saint Charles.


Posed and personalized, post cards from Sylvan Beach also had their golden age in the early 1900s. Photographers would pose tourists against scenic backdrops or on boats on shore and create personal post cards.

Shops along this walkway, typified by C. M. Williams’ Post Cards and Tin Types, provide diversion for the afternoon stroller. The beach itself is famed for its fine white sand, equalled by no other place on earth. Extending out into the lake is the commodious Rowe Brothers’ Bath House, with accommodations and suits for gents and ladies. Prices are always reasonable. The toboggan slides, thrilling spills into ecstasy, are a big attraction for bathers and frolickers for miles around.
Through three real estate investments in June of 1902, Cavana secured ownership of Sylvan Beach’s Carnival Park (the amusement area). The Midway of that day sprawled through the area of the point and meandered down along the riverbank. . . . Fewer permanent buildings existed then: the “pitch men” and concession


Boating and bathing converged in Sylvan Beach’s heyday. Day trippers could use the facilities of the Rowe Brothers’ Bath House, jutting out into the lake in the background above, Also in the background is the famous beach toboggan slide.

operators arrived each summer, erected their tents and left in early September. “Rollie coasters” and carousels gave thrills and chills to the Midway patrons. The most famous carousel, constructed by Joseph Cottman in 1896, prided itself in its hand-carved German horses and carriages. This carousel was a gilded monument to a gilded age. To enliven the Midway, Cavana imported high divers of both sexes (the lady being the most popular, of course, since her fall thrust her bathing suit into the liberating breeze). Trapeze artists and acrobats adorned a festive program. Rides in Carnival Park varied from the “Ocean Wave,” where people twirled about on a circular flexible seating platform, to the “Cave of the Winds,” a self explanatory sensation. Artists decorated the rides, one of which was the “Trip to hell,” a voyage into a dazzling mephisto abyss.


Carnival Park, purchased and built up by Dr. Cavana in 1902, dared in the Golden Age to have women high divers defying both propriety and gravity’s pull.


The Midway in the early 1900s provided the songs and patter of vaudeville as well as the thrills of rides like the Cave of the Winds.