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Revisiting Tyler County’s old Trolley Park

By Staff | Jan 29, 2014

Pittsburgh had Kennywood. Wheeling had Wheeling Park. Paden Park was Tyler County’s “Trolley Park.”

(Editor’s note: This is the latest installment from the Tyler County Planning Commission in conjunction with the Tyler County Bicentennial.)

During the decades of the 1890’s through the 1920’s, “trolley parks” were constructed throughout the eastern United States by electric rail services (trolley companies). These parks were seen as a way to increase weekend passenger business, as well as provide another source of company revenue. Such parks as Kennywood in Pittsburgh and Wheeling Park began as trolley parks.

Tyler County also boasted its example of this phenomenon. With the development of Paden Park, residents of nearby communities could enjoy various amusements by simply hopping aboard the trolleys that connected the park to Friendly, Sistersville, Middlebourne, Paden City, and New Martinsville.

The beginnings of Paden Park can be traced to 1904, when the Ohio Valley and Duquesne Glass Companies began operations and worked together to increase business exposure. On acres of land in south Paden City, the companies established Paden Park. A baseball field, open-air dance floor, a small building for selling confections, and a merry-go-round space were constructed.

With baseball being the undisputed national pastime at that time, the park attracted large crowds to see their local teams compete, and occasionally enjoy exhibition games featuring professional teams, including the Pittsburgh Pirates. The park was also a popular destination for picnics and events sponsored by businesses and employers.

Large crowds were common for events such as this, the Sistersville Merchants Picnic.

In 1909, however, Union Traction Company, which operated the Sistersville-New Martinsville trolley line, assumed operation of the park and began construction of the park’s most elaborate feature, the Paden Park Pavilion. The pavilion greatly expanded the park’s offerings and popularity.

The pavilion’s first floor housed a large dance floor, which replaced the open-air dance floor on the park grounds. The second floor featured a large roller-skating rink. Perhaps the most interesting feature of the building, however, was a large roof top platform designed for skeet shooting.

In 1911, to further enhance the draw of the park, an addition was built on the north end of the building for one of the largest merry-go-rounds in the state. Some sources indicate that upon the closing of the park, the large carousel was sold to Kennywood Park.

While the last trolley service in Tyler County ceased operation in 1930, Paden Park lived on until 1943. And while there are no longer any visible traces of the pavilion and the site is now a residential neighborhood, Paden Park remains one of the most interesting and colorful contributors to Tyler County’s rich history.

See coming editions of The Tyler Star News for more installments of “Celebrating the Tyler County Bicentennial” throughout 2014.

Construction of the Paden Park Pavilion began in 1909, financed by the Union Traction Company, operator of the Sistersville-New Martinsville trolley line.

Acknowledgments: Walter McCoy Collection, Sistersville Public Library; O.O. Brown Collection, Paden City Public Library; Sistersville and Tyler County, by Luke N. Peters, Arcadia Publishing.

The electric streetcar (trolley) line between Sistersville and New Martinsville ran immediately adjacent to the Paden Park Pavilion, literally delivering passengers to the park’s doorstep. (Photo: Rail Line Paden Park)

The pavilion’s second floor was home to one of the largest skating rinks in a multi-state region. A stage allowed musicians to provide background music for skaters. There was also a seating grandstand for visitors to watch skaters perform.