Hidden Landmarks: Rorick’s Glen

Hidden Landmarks

ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – There was once a popular amusement park in Elmira.

Rorick’s Glen in Elmira New York was once the talk of the town many years ago.

It is widely considered Elmira’s lost amusement park.

There was plenty to do and see for the whole family. The city was vibrant and largely bustling.

From 1901 to 1917, Rorick’s Glen was the place to go and be seen in West Elmira and Southport.

And the remnants remain.

There are two pillars that stand along West Water Street in the heart of West Elmira.

Courtesy: Chemung County Historical Society

Many people wrongly assume that they have something to do with the Colonel Hendy Cabin, however it is merely coincidental.

One clue is that the 11’ tall pillars, stand 25 feet across. The reason these pillars are so far apart is that back in early 1900, the trolleys of Elmira used to pass through here, taking families to the Amusement Park that used to stand on the banks of the Chemung River in Southport.

Everyone used to get packed up on a Sunday morning, hop on the trolley in downtown Elmira, ride through the pillars down to the river.

On the edge of the Chemung River, people would get off the trolley, and walk across a wooden bridge, to get to Rorick’s Glen.

Courtesy: Chemung County Historical Society

There was a plethora of activities to do during this time.

One of the major focal points of the park was The Theater at Rorick’s Glen which was the summer home of the Manhattan Opera Company.

The theater seated a sizable amount of people. It was anywhere between 1,200 and 2,000. The theater was also equipped with machinery that could make it either rain or snow onstage.

In addition to the popular theater, other activities were sparking interest as well.

There was a dance pavilion – where the big bands played and there was a restaurant.

Courtesy: Chemung County Historical Society

There were great attractions and rides such as the giant circle swing, the Little Giant Railroad, a roller coaster, a children’s playground, a lover’s lane walking path, donkey carts rides, and a water toboggan.

Rorick’s Glen was well known for its gardens which were in fact lit up with thousands of tiny electric lights.

Among the gardens, there were picnic pavilions, as well.

And it’s all gone. Rorick’s glen shut down (as an amusement park) in 1917.

Courtesy: Chemung County Historical Society

The Theater still operated, and the dance hall still frequented, but the park fizzled out.

With the onset of World War One, – the Great Depression and the automobile, the park lost its allure.

The remaining structures in the park took a big hit in the 1946 flood and were completely washed away in the 1972 flood.

For more on other hidden landmarks of Elmira and its rich history with host J.D. Iles, follow his Facebook page.

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