Monday, July 9, 2012

Shermans Amusement Park at Caroga Lake, Then and Now

Shermans, 1929

We recently paid a visit to Shermans Amusement Park on West Caroga Lake. Although the resort has been open only sporadically for many years, the buildings are in surprisingly good repair. Local fishermen told us that the park has been closed for about five years but that the last owner, George Abdella, did make substantial investments to bring it back from a previous state of near-abandonment. (For those interested, the hundred acre site and 1400 foot shorefront are being offered for $2 million by Weichart Realty)

On a date at Shermans, 1931

Mary, Betty & Kay ready to go dancing at Shermans, 1926

However, we were there not to search for real estate bargains but to pursue memories of that bygone age when the first inexpensive automobiles brought throngs of summer visitors to the Caroga region, when a host of summer camps sprang up, and the music of Sherman’s carousel drifted across the lake. 
A champion swimmer at Shermans, 1929
Our first stop at Shermans was the snack bar. Nothing to eat, of course,  but we did see rolls of 15 cent tickets for the various rides and attractions.   Back in the 1950s, a series of tame monkeys held court on this spot, dashing up and down a pole and catching all the popcorn that could be tossed in their direction. (Mr. Sherman's platinum-haired daughter presided as the Popcorn Lady at this location.)

We then took a look at the old dance hall, which dates back to the 1920s, and saw that the dance floor is still ready for a foxtrot or two.  Back in those years, couples paid a dime a dance and passed through a turnstile to the dance floor. (Wallflowers could save money.)  

From the dance hall, we passed to the Ferris Wheel, which was closely examined by a young man in our company. He wondered where people sat.

Next stop was the bumper car pavilion, where gleeful youngsters once slammed into each other amid a shower of sparks.

 And then on to the carousel where the horses look ready to ride. These are the original horses, we were told, and they were carefully refurbished by the most recent owner.

Just to the west, Canada Lake and Pine Lake were also the scene of many summer frolics of long ago, and Groshans Park on Pine Lake offered some of the same features as Shermans: rides, picnic areas, a beach and a dance hall.

The Allen Inn at Canada Lake, 1935

Ready for boating on Canada Lake, c. 1925

Groshans Park at Pine Lake, 1925 (postcard)

Before leaving the Caroga region, we stopped for a picnic and swim at the state park on East Caroga Lake.  The park is much the same as it was decades ago, according to the oldest member of our band.
Picnic at East Caroga Lake, 1929

and more recently


  1. Two of my favorite summer hang-outs! Sherman's and Pine Lake. My cousin was restoring the rides at Sherman's, but the cost to run them (Insurance) was way too high. It's too bad, it was a great amusement park!

  2. Remember the days I went there with my grandparents, miss those great times.......

  3. I had totally forgotten about those monkeys. Thanks for the memories. . . .

  4. We used to go to Sherman's in the mid-70's. I remember drinking Shirley Temples and watching my folks dance in the dance hall. My favorite ride after the bumper cars was the whip. We liked swimming in Caroga Lake over Pine (where my grandfather had a campsite) because it was shallower and sandier (and warmer!)

  5. It is not the original carousel......was sold......the original's horses, ostriches and other seating were exquisite both in beauty and function. Next to the revolving disk was a stand with a brass ring. The brave would reach out to grasp it with each revolution winning a free ride when successful. Insurance would likewise prohibit that today.

  6. remember my childhood in the 50's when my grandparents ran the hotel and amusement park. grandpa built/ran the first liquor store. grandpa built the log house along the road to pine lake. great times.

  7. Michael, thank you for researching and sharing these histories and places. I'm enjoying reading your blog so much. So glad to find it. I'll share this article with my brothers and sisters. We loved visiting Sherman's when we spent summers camping at Caroga Lake. My father loved the old penny arcade and he'd take us there regularly in the 60's and 70's.
    Mary (McTiernan) Morse

  8. Some of the best times of my life staying at the camp at Caroga Lake watching the fireworks, having campfires by the lake, playing catch in the yard, and of course going to Shermans to eat ice cream and riding the whip!! Such a wonderful place!!

  9. I was a small child but I have memories of (and I think) it is this place where Remington Arms would have their company picnic, they would pay for all employees and families to go for the day?? Sad that it closed...

  10. Such a great family amusement park! I have many fond memories of going there with family from the mid-70s to 1988.

    My favorite rides were 'Snap the Whip', Ferris Wheel, Merry-go-Round, bumper cars, and those space ships that flew just out over the water on W Caroga Lake.

    Of course the Arcade was always fun with its antique games. In the 80s there were plenty of video games to play, too! My favorite video game there was the tank battle simulation game, 'Battlezone'; all monochrome and vector drawings, ancient technology compared to today's video games!

    In 1988 I also remember the dance hall was repurposed into an 18 and over dance club; anybody else remember that?

    Fun times :)

  11. Sherman's is a thing of the past that is missed. I went there in the late 70's and early 80's. Lets not forget Xeroroids in the late 80's. I miss those times and want one of the bumper cares.

  12. I grew up about 12 miles from Caroga Lake, back in the fifties. Every spring all the local schools took busloads of kids to Shermans on "field trips". That was the "in" place to go.

  13. My dad used to take me there as a kid. And then there were Malagisi family reunions as well - at least one. I remember riding the Ferris wheel with my cousin. And the whip near the end of the property, the carousel which my dad used to tell me was super old - which I believe. And the place I used to play games. I'll never forget one of those Adirondack region storms blowing through one afternoon - it was crazy. I miss those simpler times. I have nothing but fond memories of Caroga Lake. Those were the good old days of growing up in central New York.

  14. Lived close by, summers were always shermans and pine lake, willies hot dog w/sauce and lakeaire. The blonde lady that sold pop corn and the monkey on the pole. Not a better way to grow up.