ROXBURY, NJ – A trip down Memory Lane is in store next week for those who fondly remember the rides at Bertrand Island Amusement Park.
One thing to know: The main segment of Memory Lane is about two hours of westbound Route 80.
At the end lies Elysburg, Pa., the home of Knoebels Amusement Park. It’s a place where carnival rides from the 1920s through the 1950s – identical to those that once existed at Bertrand Island – are still up and running. Those who join Lake Hopatcong historian Marty Kane on the Aug. 1 bus trip will find themselves part of a “behind-the-scenes tour” of the park that “will feature a couple of the rides that people remember so well from Bertrand Island Park,” Kane said.
The ”Lake Hopatcong Day at Knoebels Amusement Park” trip is being organized by the Lake Hopatcong Historical Museum. Kane said there are still tickets available at $45 per person. The bus leaves the former Hopatcong train station in Landing at 7 a.m. and arrives at Knoebels at 9:30 a.m.
Bertrand Island Amusement Park operated from about 1910 to 1983 on a Mount Arlington peninsula that jutted into Lake Hopatcong. The rides and other attractions were sold or bulldozed after the park closed. The land now houses condominium townhouses.
Kane said Bertrand Island’s rides didn’t end up at Knoebels. However, the Pennsylvania park has quite a few of “the exact same rides” that were installed at Bertrand Island. “For instance, at Bertrand Island they had a fairly unique ride, the Pretzel Ride that, in later years, was called Fun in the Dark,” Kane said. “Knoebels now calls it the Haunted Mansion. It’s an unusual ride, built in the 1930s.”
Also to be found at Knoebels is a grand carousel that is similar to the one long gone from Bertrand Island along with nearly identical Dodge ‘Em cars, The Whip and others. “A lot of the rides people think of when think of Bertrand Island still exist at Knoebels,” Kane said. “People can come out and re-live memories on the same manufactured rides.”
Bertrand Island Amusement Park went out of business in part because it couldn’t expand to compete with larger places, said Kane. That wasn’t a problem for Knoebels which, “unlike Bertrand Island, had room to expand.”
He said the Pennsylvania park now has five roller coasters, a campground, a golf course and modern rides along with the antique attractions.
The Aug. 1 excursion is a first for the museum, but not for Kane. He said he’s been going there for more than 20 years with his family. “We were told about it by some people up here at the lake,” he said. “They said, ‘You like Bertrand Island? Have you ever ben to Knoebels?’ We were like, `What’s that? Where’s that?’”
He said Knoebels has something else in common with Bertrand Island: There’s no admission charge. “I don’t know if there’s another major amusement park in the country that has no cost to enter and no cost to park,” Kane said. “And they have really good food … I have to say, the food there is a lot better than it was at Bertrand Island.”
The bus trip is for ages 10 and older. Reservations must be made by Lake Hopatcong Historical Museum members. People who are interested should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (973) 398-2616.