• ℹ️ Heads up...

    This is a popular topic that is fast moving Guest - before posting, please ensure that you check out the first post in the topic for a quick reminder of guidelines, and importantly a summary of the known facts and information so far. Thanks.

Burlington Island, NJ, Theme Park


TS Member
Favourite Ride
Forbidden Journey
I reported on this project a while ago, back over on TTF:

BigAl said:
BURLINGTON — An uninhabited southern New Jersey island is being envisioned as a historical theme park.
Four-hundred-acre Burlington Island sits in the Delaware River just north of the Burlington-Bristol Bridge. It's been the focus of numerous development projects that haven't panned out.
Mount Holly developer Karen Robbins says she plans to make the island into a replica of a 17th-century Indian village with a trading post and fort. Robbins tells The Philadelphia Inquirer it would be similar to Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts.
Robbins' company was chosen three years ago to develop the site. Plans have been drawn up and the company is focusing on raising money.
Plans are proceeding despite the fact the state Department of Environmental Protection is considering using part of the island to dump dirt from Delaware River dredging.

Source: http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2012/01/south_jersey_island_envisioned.html

Burlington Island:

BigAl said:
Some information regarding the history of the island:

Burlington Island Park was an amusement park on the island between 1900-1934 in the Delaware River between Burlington, N.J., and Bristol, Pa. This is just northeast of Philadelphia, Pa. It was also known as Island Beach Park.

Never having any automobile access, the park has always been accessible by footbridge or ferry only.
Around 1900, the island was used as a family picnic "resort". People would arrive on the island by boat and picnic among the trees on tables and in a large pavilion.

In the early 1900s, Burlington Park had a midway, circle swing, and sandy beaches for swimming. There was a bath house for the swimmers and an ice cream stand.

In 1910, they added a carousel. It was a beautiful mixed Dentzel machine. It spun under a large canopy.

In 1917, George Bassler and Robert Merkel purchased the park. They added a giant roller coaster called "The Greyhound" and built an elaborate amusement park. They introduced a ferris wheel, along with an "ocean wave" and boat swings. People came by the thousands, by steamboat or train, then ferried to the island.

The rides and attractions were numerous. There were the Steeplechase, Tunnel of Love, Tumblebug, Aeroplanes, Dodge-em, bumper scooters, caterpillar, a fun house, a merry-go-round, and a miniature railroad. There were a fish pond, a rifle range, air guns, a pony ride, and a ring-a-cane. For other entertainment, there was baseball, a dance hall, and bingo.

At this time, the park covered almost 100 acres (0.40 km2) of the 400-acre (1.6 km2) island. But it was to last only 11 years.

In 1928, a fire broke out at the park. It started one morning at 2am. Since all the fire-fighting equipment had to be ferried across the river from Bristol, Pa., most of the amusements burned to the ground by the time the equipment arrived.

After the fire, Robert Merkel sold the property to the VanSciver Sand and Gravel Co. (later to become the Penn-Warner Cement Co.)

The ruins of the park stood on the island until 1934 when a second fire destroyed what was left.
In 1955, the Warner Co. started to dredge the sand and gravel from the park area of the island. By 1969, there was nothing left of the former amusement park site but a 100-acre (0.40 km2) lagoon.

The carousel still exists today. It is owned by Dr. Floyd L. Moreland of Seaside Heights, N.J. And it still spins, under the same canopy, on Casino Pier in Seaside Heights.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burlington_Island

Some photographs from Burlington Islands official website:



Source: http://www.burlingtonisland.com/index.htm

Finally, Island Beach Park has an RCDB page too: http://www.rcdb.com/5338.htm


BigAl said:
Some more old photographs. These are clearer and give you a better idea of what the park was once like:


Guests would have to use boats to get to and from the island.


This is one of the earliest rides. It came from George Potts’ Rancocas Park in Mount Laurel.


It looked like a popular attraction, by the look of this picture!


Some guests enjoyed sitting on the beach and staring back at the mainland and the boats darting across the Delaware river, or hiring a boat out too.


A tree-lined thoroughfare.


The Greyhound Scenic Railway.


The park also had a miniature railway as well.

Source: http://www.dryl.org/2010/Burlington_Island/Burlington%20Island.htm


It seems that since then the plans have changed once more. To begin with, the park was going to be turned into a.... a... 'Jesusland' theme park.... But someone, somewhere, had a much better idea to try and turn it back into the fairground that it used to be.

However, the idea now is to turn it into a 17th-century Native American Indian village with a trading post and fort. It will apparently have a living-history museum, amphitheatre, boat building school, archaeological dig, camp ground, nature trails and many other activities.

But it seems that since the old theme park closed many years ago, the island has been used as a dumping ground for anyone with unwanted rubbish, so for the past few years, residents have been going across to the island in the middle of the Delaware river to get it cleaned up.


This should all be gone very soon!

Here's an article on the new plans and the people trying to help get the place ship-shape for things to start happening:

BURLINGTON CITY — A developer hopes to launch a massive cleanup this fall of the long-vacant Burlington Island, which he plans to turn into a historical tourist attraction.

On Thursday, Karen Robbins, CEO of Woolman Community Development, which the Board of Island Managers chose several years ago as a provisional developer for the site, presented a plan to rid the 300-acre island of piles of rusted metal that dot its landscape.

Robbins’ company wants to turn the Delaware River island into a recreated 17th-century Lenni Lenape village, trading post and fort. The island is 150 yards across the water from Burlington City.
The proposed cleanup would happen in October, when Robbins would transport at least a dozen trash containers to the island via helicopter and employ specially trained contractors to remove the junk, which was left behind when cottages that once dotted the island were demolished in the 1970s.

Robbins hopes to recoup some of the cleanup costs by enticing sponsors to purchase advertisements on the trash bins, which will remain on the site for about four weeks. None of the costs will be borne by the board or taxpayers, she said.

“What she presented ... was a dynamic opportunity for the board to have the island cleaned up at no cost and for participation by the communities, between Bristol (Pa.) and Burlington,” board manager Joseph Abate said Friday. “It will remove a lot of the debris that’s been on the island for the past 20 or 25 years.”

Don Reinhardt, a Burlington City resident and frequent island visitor, said the piles are about 12 feet high and about 60 feet in diameter.

“The cleanup is a good plan for the island, it’s a good plan for the city and it’s a good plan for the environment,” Reinhardt said.

In order to move forward with the cleanup plan, Robbins will have to negotiate a waiver of a standing executive order by Mayor James Fazzone that bars access to the island. Robbins said she will discuss the order with Fazzone. The mayor did not return a call Friday evening seeking comment.

The board has long sought to develop the island into an economic driver and historical resource. Robbins’ idea for a historical park followed an earlier, unsuccessful plan for a golf course.

In the early 1900s, visitors would travel to the island by paddle boat to visit an amusement park there that had a carousel and roller coaster. The park burned down twice in a period of 11 years.
Robbins’ development plans include a living history museum, a replica Lenape settlement, an amphitheater and a marina built on the island’s 100-acre lake.
Robbins has not signed a lease for the island yet, but she said the cleanup project will proceed regardless.

“This is necessary, obviously, for development, but we’re doing this whether or not the development goes forward,” Robbins said. “We expect it will, but we have not yet signed our lease, and we’re going to go forward with this cleanup whether or not the lease is signed.”


So this is the current plan for the island:


A full two page plan can be read here.

So they may never rebuild the famous John A. Miller (designer of the Big Dipper at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, for anyone who didn't know) 'Greyhound' roller coaster...


...but at least they aren't going to turn the place into 'Jesusland'.

Sorry, that's quite a lot to read! Anyone who managed it can give themselves a pat on the back! :D

The only attraction from the original park that I know still exists is the Dr. Floyd L. Moreland Historic Dentzel/Looff Carousel. After the park on Burlington island closed, the ride eventually arrived at Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, New Jersey where it remains today.


According to the video below, some of the horses were carved in the 1890's but the carousel was completed and opened in 1910, making the ride nearly 103 years old.

A video of it's 100th birthday celebration:
Casino Pier Carousel 100th Birthday (6/28/10)

However, we all know that Hurricane Sandy recently wreaked havoc up the eastern coaster of America and Casino Pier was one of the unfortunate piers to fall victim to the colossal storm.

This is what the pier looks like now:

Should the Carousel still be alive, here's its page on the Casnio Pier site for anyone that may want to visit it if they find themselves over there in the future: