Fern Brook Park 1914

The Wilkes-Barre and Northern Railroad (later the Wilkes-Barre, Dallas and Harvey’s Lake trolley) was reaching Harvey's Lake by the early summer of 1897. 

The new line (which competed with the Lehigh Valley Railroad for Lake traffic) created a picnic ground in Dallas (now the site of Offset Paperback).  The company held a contest to name the new park. 

While the Dallas Post newspaper lobbied for the name Jackson Park, the name Fern Brook Park was the winner.  The name was suggested by Mary Hawley of Askam (near Hanover), who was a Shavertown school teacher.  The name was appropriate as Toby’s Creek, with it’s fern-strewn banks, flowed through the park. (Later generations referred to the park as Fernbrook Park.  But the earliest accounts and business titles were Fern Brook - the designation used here.)

Fern Brook Park was opened on Saturday, June 26, 1897, with the Ninth Regiment Band and nearly 800 people present.  The name of the new park was announced, Mary Hawley awarded a gold coin, and the park officially opened with Prof. Alexander’s band following with a concert lasting several hours.  (Alexander was a famous local band leader who may have inspired the famous 1911 song  “Alexander’s Rag Time Band.”)

Early Fern Brook Park, like the Lehigh Valley Picnic Grounds at the Lake, was essentially a picnic grove perhaps with basic amusement attractions.


Fern Brook was actually opened before the full line ran to the Lake.  The last spike on the joint railroad-trolley system was not hammered until June 28, 1897. 

In these early years the line ran a trolley from Wilkes-Barre to Luzerne where a railroad locomotive was coupled to the cars to haul them to the Lake.  Later the system was a full trolley run from the city. At the line’s terminus on Oneonta Hill near the southern tip of Harvey's Lake (now Sunset) there also was a small picnic ground.

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Copyright 2007 F. Charles Petrillo