Friday, July 31, 2009

July 31, 1909 - Baerena Park

100 Years Ago: From The Rensselaer Eagle [NY 41 Rensselaer 93-32173].

Churches United in a Fine Day's Trip to Baerena Park
The union excursion of the upper Rensselaer churches on Saturday last to Baerena Park was one of the pleasantest events that the churches have united in in a long time... Early in the day the weather was threatening but as soon as the two barges were fairly started the sun broke through the clouds...
Image: The USS Harvest Queen in 1917, just after the un-powered barge was purchased from Baerena Park owner J.N. Briggs by the Navy, to use as a barracks. Info at HistoryCentral.

From the Albany Evening Journal, July 26, 1909 (
RENSSELAER - Two barges, Empress and Harvest Queen, with about 3,000 people on board, left the dock at the foot of Second avenue this morning at 10:30 o'clock for Baerena park. The outing was that annual excursion of St. John's parish and was the largest from Rensselaer this season. ... A feature of the morning's program was the marching of the drum corps of St. John's academy to the dock. Many of the members of the parish who were unable to leave Rensselaer this morning left this afternoon for the island in the steamer Ursula from Albany.

Baerena Park was downriver on Barren Island in Coeymans, also known as Baeren, Bearn, or Bear Island. William Wade's 1846 Panorama of the Hudson River says:
This place, the southern boundary of the ancient colony or manor of Renssalaerwyck, was fortified and garrisoned by one of the early Patroons in 1644. As the port of the colony, all traders were here obliged to stop and learn the terms on which they might proceed.
John N. Briggs, ice harvesting tycoon and founder of the Atlantic Light and Power Company owned the island.'s history of Coeymans says:
In 1879, Briggs developed an amusement park called Baerena Park on Barren Island. The park included docks, a covered dance platform, a Ferris wheel, merry-go-round, refreshments and an Observation tower.
According to historic newspapers, Baerena Park was a stop for Sunday School picnics as early as 1877 and as late as 1913. Its 1879 opening was well before Electric Park in Kinderhook, though it likely didn't open with all the amusement rides (the Ferris Wheel, designed by an RPI grad, only dates back to 1893). This July 8th, 1891 ad in the Poughkeepsie Daily Eagle reads:


A most delightful Pic Nic Ground, Located on Baeren Island, in the Hudson River, thirteen miles below Albany, N. Y..
Is now open for Excusions of Sunday Schools, Military and Civic Societies. The grounds are of a slate rock formation, beautifully shaded, and laid out with walks and provided with large Pavillion, Summer Houses, Refreshment Stands, Ladies' Sitting Room, and an ample supply of filtered iced drinking water....
No mud, no mosquitos, beautiful scenery, no disagreeable features or surroundings. ... A good police force. All the Popular Amusements of the day at Low Rates...

No comments: