HISTORY OF CARSONIA PARK
Carsonia Park, as with so many, began as a trolley park. The idea for Carsonia Park was created in October of 1894 by the Union Traction Company of Reading to increase it’s weekend ridership. General construction began in May of 1896 and the park opened to the public in June of that year. The park was built on a 145 acre farm in a swampy area which is today known as Pennside.
Initially the park only consisted of the peaceful gardens, lake and the natural springs which it was built upon. Soon there was an Edison Parlor and Theater. As time passed, rides were added. Early rides included an Armitage-Hershell Carousel, Shoot the Chute (a common big attraction at early parks), a Miniature Railroad and a Toboggan Pleasure Railway (Roller Coaster).
The park added many rides and attractions and changed others over the years. In October of 1939 trolley service to the park ended. This marked a decline which lasted until 1950 when the park was closed. All the rides were removed and most of the land was used for a housing project and for a public park with a pool.
Today Carsonia Park includes the Antietam Pool complex, with three swimming pools, a concession stand, three accompanying buildings a large pavilion and a small playground. Also in the Park is the Robert Heim Recreation building, two baseball fields, one t-ball field, two basketball courts, two small pavilions, a tot lot, and a paved area which formerly housed four tennis courts. More or less in the center of the park is Crystal Lake, which is encircled by a walking trail. The 27-acre park is nestled within the Pennside neighborhood, primarily made up of homes designed and built by Bill Whitman’s construction company after WWII known as “Whitman homes.”
From February 2013 through November 2014, AVCP participated in a comprehensive planning process with the Antietam Valley Recreation and Community Center, Lower Alsace Township, the Borough of Mount Penn, Exeter Parks and Rec Department, the Mount Penn Water Authority, the Berks Conservancy and the Antietam School District to create a Master Plan to improve Carsonia Park. Plans call for a reorientation of several major features in the park, as well as improvements to parking facilities, the Recreation Building and Crystal Lake. AVCP is working hard with several partners to identify ways to fund these improvements, and welcomes members of the Antietam Valley community to participate in this important work!