Wednesday, October 13, 2010


The mid-1900s found the Adirondack Park chock full of kitschy amusement venues, most of which are no longer around. The North Pole is still in operation up in Wilmington, and the Enchanted Forest (or is it the Magic Forest?) down in Lake George is open summers. The rest, however, have faded away into the dust of time.

Not too far from Newcomb, just off Exit 29 from the Northway, is/was FrontierTown, a little bit of the American West in the Adirondacks.

Many of the folks in Newcomb (and no doubt the other nearby villages) held summer jobs here, dressed as frontier folk and making memories for tourists.

Today, all that remains is the empty main building, the train depot, and a couple small out-buildings, little more than walls and roofs.

I was meeting my County Coordinator for the NYS Bluebird Society this morning to drop off unsold nestbox kits, money from sold kits, etc. Our meeting spot was the FrontierTown parking lot. I got there early, so I wandered around taking photos.

Of course, I couldn't pass up photographing the milkweed, which is at its prime right about now.

This was the first building I encountered. Was it a jail? A storage shed?

More milkweed. :)

A small pond graced the property, surrounded by a split rail fence.

Some of the fence rails were simply coated with lichens!

I walked around the pond and crossed the little bridge (which has seen better days).

Along side the "trail" were what looked like railroad ties, albeit small railroad ties. Did they have a little train ride here?

Sure enough, following the tracks, they led right to what had been the train depot. There are no trains running here any more.

There's plenty of vegetation, though. Why, it's a regular ghost town! Minus the actual town.

I continued past the depot toward the main building, with its tall triangular form.

The remains of a wagon rest against the building.

A road grader (?) lies in the weeds.

The glass had been shattered on the door that led into the Triangle, so I poked my head and camera inside. There appeared to be a stage inside. Did they have shows here? Perhaps they held dances?

Two old chandeliers still swung from the rafters, accompanied by some tacky fluorescent lights.

A candle holder perhaps?

A fire hydrant lurked nearby, almost swallowed up by the vegetation.

I headed back toward the train depot.

How very sad it all looks today. The original signs are still in place, warning visitors to be careful on the rides. Today I suppose they apply equally well to visitors like me who are just poking around.

Soon Kathy rolled into the parking lot and my wandering came to and end. I gave her my bluebird stuff, we swapped a few stories, and then we went our separate ways.

I never got to visit places like FrontierTown when I was a kid. Oh, we did Disney World out in California when we lived there, but I was too young to remember. I do remember asking to go to the North Pole when we visited Lake Placid, but we never did.

The place I always wanted to visit was down in the Mohawk Valley: Petrified Creatures. I was really into dinosaurs when I was a kid, and this place had 'em. Well, I guess what they really had were fiberglass replicas, which I've heard weren't to accurate. We would pass Petrified Creatures every time we drove to my grandparents' house in Gloversville. Every time I would ask if we could stop, but we never did. I finally stopped asking. I can still remember seeing the neck and head of a brontosaurus and the ridged back of a stegosaurus peeking through the trees, behind the perimeter fence. Like all such places in the Park, Petrified Creatures is nothing more than a fenced in patch of trees and weeds today. An era has passed. The nostalgic side of me is sorry I missed them.


  1. Wonderful trip down memory lane. Yes there was a working railroad. It was sold as one unit at the auction a few years back. My friend Peter used to work as a train robber and scare the visiting children. A few of the general store barrels, signs, and the blacksmith shop sharpening stone wheel are in my wood shop. Watcha mean by "kitschy" ?

  2. Yes, there was a train with a holdup on every ride. It was agreat place!!

  3. Don't you wonder about all of the people who had such fun in that place, and all of the people who worked there. I wonder how it lives in their memories.

  4. My grandparents (in Schroon Lake) took me to Frontier Land several times when I was a kid. I loved it. Weird to see it as a ghost town:(

  5. I once went to Frontier Land, Could they have been the same? It had a chair lift that went all around the park. I loved the place and still love the the spot it holds in my memory.

  6. What an evocative photo essay about a time long gone by! I also remember clamoring to stop at such roadside attractions and my parents never yielding. Nor did I yield to my own children's pleas because by then I knew how phony these places usually are. Frontier Town is actually more appealing as the ghost town it has now become.

  7. I remember going to Frontier Town and my wife has several pictures of her family visiting there.

    Your picture "A road grader (?) lies in the weeds." is most likely a set of harrows or "drags" used to break up clods of dirt. A typical sequence is plowing, discing and then harrowing a field to prepare it for planting crops.

    Thanks for the Frontier Town pictures.

  8. Oh my gosh! One of my earliest memories is being completely terrified of the train hijacking. I couldn't have been more than five. There's a small "Frontier Town" store on Rte 9 just south of Lake George and every time I pass it I think of that silly train ride.

  9. Yup, the Dinosaurs. I always wanted to stop, too. I didn't realize it was gone now. How sad :( Perhaps the next time we're on a trip and the kids want to stop, I'll think about this and we'll actually stop and take a break :) I wish we'd also done stuff like the North Pole and Frontier Town, too. Thanks for the memories, sis!

  10. Wow - so many comments of remembrances! I'm glad I could bring a smile to so many.

    I'm sure many a parent dreaded passing such places with the kids in the car. And I can certainly understand the "we are not stopping" answer to ever-hopeful kids. But, in retrospect, I still wish we could've stopped. Like I said, it's the part of me that loves nostalgia - and it is a part of American history that is now long gone.

    Kitschy? Sure - something that is a bit tacky, often related to art in some way. But, I'd say these places were kitschy in a good way. :)