Bertrand Island- was anyone else ever there???
I joined this site last month and have just been lurking, reading everyone’s posts- up to this point. I’m curious to know if anyone here has ever been to Bertrand Island, on Lake Hopatcong in northern New Jersey. It was a turn-of -the-century trolley park that operated through 1983.
I’d compare the park to Conneaut Lake Park in terms of the size and setting. My last visit to BI was in 1976, the year my family moved to Florida. I loved this park!!! I was finally tall enough to ride the Wildcat, which was BI’s wooden coaster that year. It was a 1925 PTC out-and-back with supposedly a 75 foot first drop and, if I remember it correctly, a bunny hop in the middle of one of the drops.
Has anyone else ridden this coaster??? It was my first coaster experience, and the 32 year old memory has somewhat faded for me! I’d like to know if there’s another coaster anywhere else with a comparable ride experience. The track layout of CP’s Blue Streak is similar, with the out and back sides laid so closely together (as well as the camel humps at the end). However, I’m thinking the drops on the Blue Streak are steeper, and perhaps the air time bursts are more abrupt. But, I’m pretty sure the Wildcat was a faster coaster with lots of air time. I’d love to hear anyone else’s thoughts on this.
One very cool ride at Bertrand Island was the Boomerang. It may have been called Tub of Fun in earlier days. I remember this ride as being totally terrifying. You sat in a small round teacup car that the attendant would attach to the spoke of a large wheel. The whole contraption would rotate, and then the operator hit a lever. Your “tub” abruptly disengaged from the wheel and went flying into a curved trough, as you bounced like a pinball between the rubber rails. I think there were stars and planets painted on the tunnel walls. I’ve never seen another ride like it an any other park. Am I correct on this??
Anyhow, hello everyone. I’m Dan from Sarasota (FL) and it’s great reading the posts here!
I don't believe I ever got to Bertrand Island, despite living, as I still do, I Jersey all my 44 years. I do know know that when my 10-years -older brother was an altar boy, that was always their trip. By the time I wore the cassock and surplice, Great Adventure was in business. Unfortunately, Bertrand's has always been a place I knew precious little about. Are you a Jersey native?
Yes Mike. I was born in Mount Holly and was immediately moved from there to Cedar Knolls (next to Morristown) until I was 10. I've lived in Florida since then. I remember when Great Adventure opened, my parents took me there that year (in 1974 I think).
But I have very fond memories of Bertrand Island. It was a compact park, on a narrow island in the middle of Lake Hopatcong. Quite a beautiful setting. There was an old dance hall buiilding that was converted to a show arena, and Peter Frampton (of all people) played there once, right before he broke big. They used to have a gorgeous carousel that was taken out some years before the park closed, and one of the horses from it is on display at the Smithsonian- which I discovered quite by accident! There was also an old mill ride which was built under the coaster station.
If you have ever seen the Woody Allen film "The Purple Rose of Cairo," the amusement park scenes were all shot at Bertrand Island. Too bad you never got to go to the park, it was such a great place. Hope I haven't bored you yet... but where in Jersey are you?
Hey, just joined this site but know some of the regular members here and have hung with Eric checking out the hotties at Whispers in Danville (LOL!).
Any way, Bertrand Island is a park I used to frequent when I was a real little kid, probably 6-7 years old or under. I remember it vaguely and know for sure that I didn't ride the coaster. I remember a boat ride on the Lake and being petrified on the Old Mill ride. For the most part, I think the indoor portion was just dark with no functional scenes but I could be wrong. I know my parents probably took some photos from our trips there although I'm certain they're probably all of me and none of the rides or coasters. I'll have to check it out someday.
I know a book has been made about Bertrand and I believe a video as well which is basically just a video version of the book. I believe I have them both and will dig around for them. If I find out anything interesting, I'll post it here.
ACE Rep- NJ Region
Yes, I was at Bertand Island as a kid many times.
When my Dad had vacation, we would go to Lake Hopatcong for the day to swim, and in late afternoon drive over to this amusement park for a bite, maybe take the lake cruise, and ride the rides.
The Wildcat coaster was my first wooden coaster. I loved the "Fun in the Dark" ride also, and the "Lost River" (under the coaster) where your boat plummeted down a wooden slide to make a splash at the end of the ride.
But the BEST was the BOOMERANG ride.......I remember that with my long legs my brother and I could barely fit into this ride. I marveled at how the car would just detach from the rapidly spinning wheel and go hurtling through a tunnel, bumping into the wall bumpers along the way and finally come to a stop at the boarding platform.....
INTERSTINGLY, this ride was moved to one of the piers at Seaside Heights, NJ for a short time in the 80's after the park at Hopatcong closed. I still miss that park and am glad to have the book and photos that keep the memory alive!
> Hey, just joined this site but know some of the regular
> members here and have hung with Eric checking out the
> hotties at Whispers in Danville (LOL!).
LOL! Whispers packs them in, but there are few keepers in that pond.
And yes, air time was an understatement, more people received whiplash and minor injuries almost every other weekend between the coaster and the Boomerang (scary and dangerous - there is no way this ride would be allowed to operate today, no way. There was a story about several riders being thrown from the cars, but I never knew if was true. Not knowing made the even better.
We (family) frequented Bertrand Island on day trips after swimming at Lake Hopatcong State Park, back in the 60s.
I did get back there once around 1978 - sadly the park closed in '83 - there are condominiums there now.
Yes, I rode the old Wildcat......so rickety but still a thrill in '78.
And that Boomerang ride was the best (if you could manage to fit in it OK with long legs like I have!). It was moved to Seaside Height boardwalk in NJ after the park closed, where it continued to run for about 5 years. It's gone now.
We also enjoyed very much the Lost River (boat ride through a long tunner under the coaster with a hill and splash at the end), and the "Fun in the Dark" old dark ride - the kind that are so hard to fine today.
The closest out and back coaster I know of to that old Wild Cat is the Comet at HersheyPark, in Hershey, PA. - a bit larger, I think.
By the way, that old Wild Cat at BI is featured in the film "Purple Rose of Cairo" with Jeff Daniels and Mia Farrow - cute and fun with a few scenes at that abandoned park and in the coaster station.
Fun to look back - we enjoy an occasional (long) day trip to Knoebels Park in Elysburg PA.
The Phoenix coaster there is phenomenal with all its "air time" (moved there from TX).
Good chatting. I don't get to these sites very often but I enjoyed reading your post.
(My name is also Dan).