PORTSMOUTH, R.I. — The town historian will present a lecture in January entitled, “Island Park 1898-1938: An Important Era in Portsmouth’s History.”
Island Park has a unique place in Portsmouth’s history. Town Historian Jim Garman will discuss its history at the Common Fence Point Community Center at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 24.
Near the end of the 19th century and well into the 20th century, Island Park was the location of a wonderful “Trolley Park,” an amusement park created by the Newport and Fall River Street Railway Company.
Trolley Parks were common at that time as the trolley companies sought to increase ridership. Island Park was an ideal location for this amusement park, drawing riders from both ends of the trolley route and many places in between.
Beginning with Barker’s Carousel, Park Avenue became the center of a great deal of social activity, featuring everything from a roller coaster and a dance hall to shooting galleries and other entertainments. This era in Island Park’s history was sadly ended by the famous Hurricane of 1938, when a 12-foot tidal surge came up the Sakonnet River and destroyed what was left of the amusement park.
Garman’s lecture will be illustrated with many views of old Island Park, selected from Garman’s extensive personal collection of historic Portsmouth photographs.
This program is sponsored by the Portsmouth Historical Society in partnership with the Common Fence Point Community Association.
Admission is free and food trucks will be available outside the Community Center.