I received an email announcing a lecture next week at the Dutchess County Historical Society about the amusement parks that were built along the Hudson at the beginning of the 20th Century. One was in Poughkeepsie and is described as follows:

“The amusement parks were often built by the trolley companies. Electric Park at Kinderhook Lake in Colum­bia County was built by the Albany and Hudson Railroad Company in 1901. This grand park was the first such park to be built along the upper valley and it had a successful run until around 1916. Simi­larly, the amusement park at Orange Lake in Newburgh was owned and operated by the Orange Lake Traction Company. New York City visitors could sail aboard a steamship to Newburgh’s dock where they connected for the trolley ride to Orange Lake, some 6 miles west.

The largest amusement park in the mid and upper Hudson Valley in terms of rides and concessions was the Woodcliff Pleasure Park in Poughkeepsie. Entrepreneur Fred Ponty opened his dream park in 1927 on what is now the northernmost portion of Marist College’s campus. It offered myriad attractions including the Blue Streak, the world’s highest and fastest roller coaster. Local residents used a trolley from downtown Poughkeepsie. Others drove to its ample parking area. On the weekends, steamships arrived from New York City with several thousand pas­sengers. The park also hosted numerous athletic events and exhibitions. A series of un­fortunate incidents led to the park’s abrupt closure 1941.”

I am sure that few of my readers have ever heard about the Park with the world’s highest and fastest roller coaster. I was thinking that someone from Dutchess County would have to be about 85 years old to remember riding the big coaster. I was able to find a post card picture of the park but haven’t yet found a picture of the roller coaster. I did find a description on the internet under “Wierd Poughkeepsie, the incredible scream machine”.
“Did you know that Poughkeepsie was the home to the largest Roller Coaster in the world once….. built buy the same man who designed the Coney Island Cyclone, the Blue Streak of Woodcliff Pleasure Park stood over 128 ft tall and descended over 18 ft below ground. Many “Blue Streaks” are around today all named after the famous Poughkeepsie Blue Streak.”

If any of my readers are oldtimers or know of any, I would be interested to hear their remembrances of Woodcliff.

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