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Piney Ridge Park
Piney Ridge Park was located on the Rockville Branch of the Hartford & Springfield Street Railway Co. between Warehouse Point and Broad Brook. This section of the trolley line is now owned by the Connecticut Trolley Museum. The Museum's trolley ride, starting near Warehouse Point extends east towards Broad Brook, stopping at Wells Road - less than a quarter mile from where visitors hopped off the trolley to visit Piney Ridge Park.
Piney Ridge PArk History
Piney Ridge Park is synonymous with the Hartford and Springfield Street Railway Co's attempt to draw paying fares at times that would otherwise have been rather rider-ship restrained. This was a common characteristic among operating trolley lines throughout the country at a time when the working publics destinations typically amounted to a Monday thru Saturday only, mass transit need.
As the trolley lines converted from horse drawn vehicles to the more far-reaching electrified routes, not only could people find it moderately more convenient to live further away from the population centers but those dwellers of the city could find sustenance in taking in the enigmatic country air on a weeks end outing.
To encourage this, small park-like destinations were constructed, usually at the sole expense of the trolley companies, to entice the fare paying public out of their homes and out of the cities on summer weekends, to picnic and cavort. These special territories became known, quite inexplicably, as “trolley parks”!
Having the Warehouse Point area of Connecticut strategically about equidistant to the big cities of Hartford (CT) and Springfield (MA) it seemed to be a natural location for a trolley park. Warehouse Point, at that time being mostly a farming community with its inherent farming related aromas, which were deemed by some as being pure country air – “good for the lungs and what ails ya”, was a winner.
In a small area just outside of Warehouse Point proper and slightly west of, but including, the Scantic river gorge, there came into being the Piney Ridge Park.
Set in a heady grove of pine forest, a picnic area was set up which very quickly evolved to include a dance pavilion, a ball field, a carousel and many more recreational amenities. Families now had an after-church fun destination to look forward to, fleeing some of those very hot, Tobacco Valley summers aboard the ever popular, naturally air-conditioned, open trolleys.
The short heyday time frame for most of these trolley parks was arguably the 1910 – 1920’s. As the public became more sophisticated and the automobile flashed upon the scene, with subsequent decreasing attendance, it became uneconomical for the trolley company owners and shareholders to maintain the smaller facilities. However, a few of the larger and more elaborate destination parks such as Quasey in Middlefield and Lake Compounce in Bristol did continue on and still survive to this day.
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