Monday, August 24, 2009

August 21, 1909 - Vaudeville by Rail

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

In 1909, Electric Park in Kinderhook, NY was a popular destination less than an hour south of Rensselaer via the Albany & Hudson Railroad. Such amusement parks were common in the US, and were built by the railroads as destinations to boost ridership. In addition to amusement rides and water sports, there was a theater with vaudeville acts.

Another Good Bill at the Park

That Manager Dikehaus has made good is the opinion of all who have visited Electric Park since he took charge and judging from his theatre offerings this week nothing but the best acts obtainable are to be presented during the remainder of the season. ... He is now busy booking acts for next week and says that he will offer as the headline attraction the Six Satsudas, a sextette of marvelous Japanese equilibrists and manipulators. ... Mr. Dikehaus showed his determination to please the patrons of the rustic theatre this week when he secured the Three Lucifers, the European comedy grotesques. Like Larose & Lagusta they have caused a sensation at the park and next week the success is sure to be repeated by the Six Satsudas. The Three Lucifers offer a refined singing, dancing and eccentric athletic novelty and those who have not seen the act would do well to visit the park before it is too late. In addition to this big act Carlo's Animal circus is holding forth and then there are Irvin R. Walton, the Mayor of Tanktown; Marie Bergere, character impersonator; Fred Wyckoff, the rube comedian, and new motion views. ...

Albany & Hudson Railroad #22 at
Electric Park Station, Kinderhook, New York,
from the Joseph H. Smith Collection

Click on the photo to zoom in and see how well people dressed for a day at the amusement park. I couldn't find images of any of the vaudeville acts named here, but this video might give you a flavor of the entertainment: Historic Footage- Vaudeville Acts 1898 to 1910. Maybe the "motion views" they watched could have included Mary Pickford in the 1909 film Gibson Goddess.

Earlier "1909" posts about Electric Park include the Memorial Day crowds and the railroad's new hydraulic power plant at Stuyvesant Falls. The Columbia County Museum "Journey to the Past" has some great old postcards from Electric Park, including the carousel, ferris wheel, and roller coaster. The Upstate Earth blog followed and photographed the traces of the old railway in these posts: Albany & Hudson Electric Railway and Following the Albany & Hudson route from Electric Park to Albany.

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