Gamely picking her way downhill on a muddy, uneven path through the woods, Marge Krill finds it hard to imagine her surroundings were once home to an amusement park that attracted thousands of people from nearby Mon Valley towns.

It’s pretty interesting to think you would come here,” she said. “This is not flat, and they would have pavilions and everything.”

Krill, of Belle Vernon, was one of about 30 souls curious enough to brave a chilly, gray Saturday afternoon for a walking tour of the old Eldora Park grounds in Carroll Township organized by Donora Historical Society.

Brian Charlton, the historical society’s archivist, said during a presentation before the tour the park started out as a picnic grove on farmland owned by the Wickerham family in the Black Diamond area of Carroll Township.

It was on a trolley line Pittsburgh Railways Co. built in the 1890s. A group of local business leaders, including Charleroi native and former Pennsylvania Gov. John Tener, worked together to build it up into an amusement park in the early 1900s.

Eldora Park officially opened May 30, 1904, to a crowd of 5,000 people, Charlton said.

VIPs who reportedly visited there include freed slave and black community leader Booker T. Washington, temperance-movement leader Carrie Nation and labor activist Mother Jones.

The park eventually closed and became Charwood Day Camp for local Girl Scouts in 1946.

“When the Girl Scouts initially started leasing the property, they were camping out in (the old dance hall),” said Richard Rockwell, 63, whose mother was a Scout leader. He said campers later stopped spending the night in the building as it deteriorated.

Rockwell, a Charleroi native whose grandfather Walter Rockwell was involved in building the park, now lives in Bloomfield, N.J. Rockwell, who runs blogs devoted to Eldora Park and to the old Charleroi Interurban trolley system, happened to be in town Saturday on a visit with his father.

None of the park’s amenities – including a figure 8 roller coaster, dance pavilion and merry-go-round – still stand.

There are, however, some traces of the park still visible, like the remnants of a typewriter Rockwell pointed out as he walked through a hollow leading from now-closed Black Diamond Road up to the main area.

After a short hike around the property, he was carrying several glass bottles he’d found.

“If you had any idea how many of those we found when we were kids – we used to call those ‘targets,’” said John Kifer, 68, a Wickerham descendant whose family still owns much of the land. He lives on a house near what was once the park’s midway.

Among those Kifer said have visited the property are a group of guys who like to scour the land with military-grade metal detectors, he said.

Others who remember camping there as children also returned.

“The sad thing is, they’re disappointed when they come back, but the Girls Scouts will come back and look at it,” Kifer said. “And so much of history is being lost.”

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