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Rorick's Glen Postcards - Elmira, Chemung County NY
General & Overviews Theater & Pavilion Restaurant & Bridges Picnic & Park Areas 2001 Remains
If you wish to use these scanned images, contact Joyce for price on one time use. I can provide the higher resolution image without the identifying Tri-Counties logo. While some of these are very common, others are not and were costly.
Indian Earthworks at Rorick's Glen. Elmira NY
There are several postcard versions of this same photo
Elmira's residents could pick up the trolley to West Elmira where they could cross the Chemung River on the foot bridge to Rorick's Glen. Those who arrived by trolley got free tickets to the theater.
In comparing these two night views, it looks as though the lighted tower element was moved further up the hill once the dance pavilion was added on the river bank.
Note that the cards below are taken from the approximately same location as the two above. The first two show the older bridge and the lower three show the newer bridge. The older wooden bridge was replaced in 1907 by the steel bridge shown below. The second bridge was washed out by the Flood of 1946. By 1947 the Boy Scouts took over the property. The replacement  to the 1907-1946 bridge was washed out by the Flood of 1972.
The above five cards show farm land in what is now the streets of West Elmira heading to the industrial and commercial mega-sites in Big Flats.
The 8823 card is shown here in both black and white and hand colored version.
The Rorick's Glen Park was most popular from 1900 until 1917. It closed in 1918 when changes in society ceated by automobile transportation gave Elmira's residents the opportunity to travel further for their entertainment.  In 1947 the Boy Scouts took over the property as a camp ground
Roricks Glen
Thomas Byrne, Chemung County History to 1975

?The glory of Roricks seems to have become kind of a legend to all of us,? wrote Frances Bennett Myers in 1947 when Roricks Glen became a Boy Scout reservation.

The golden age of Roricks was from 1901 to 1917.  It was unique in two ways, Mrs. Myers observed.  First, no liquor was sold.  Second, Roricks became an artistic center quite unlike any similar development.  Roricks catered strictly to the family trade.  There were always free unreserved seats for the street car patrons, and those who had more money to spend had season tickets in the reserved section.  There were attractive picnic grounds where many families dined before the performance.

The 1,200-seat theater at Roricks was a large, open-air theater well suited for its purpose.  A wide porch served as a lobby.  The auditorium was open on three sides and canvas could be lowered or raised as the weather dictated.  Baskets of ferns swung in the arches, and urns filled with geraniums flanked the entrance.  Backstage there was valuable scenery and rain and snow making machinery.  It was advertised as the most elaborate open-air playhouse in the country. 

The gorge was topped with earthwork remains of a fortification that some authorities date as pre-Iroquoian.  Sylvester A. Rorick, born in 1836, developed lumbering there a half-century before the Elmira Water, Light & Railroad Co. took it over. 

Roricks Glen started with vaudeville and minstrels and later featured the Manhattan Opera Company.  The advent of the automobile, and competition from motion pictures, led to a decline in patronage.

The old wooden bridge which connected the West Water trolley loop with the Glen was replaced by steel spans in 1907.  This bridge was carried away by the 1946 flood, and a successor was washed away in the 1972 flood.

Francis G. Maloney (1869-1937) was closely associated with Roricks Glen and the Elmira trolley system in his long, interesting career.  His ultimate title was superintendent of the railway system of the New York State Electric & Gas Corp., successor to  Elmira Water, Light & Railroad Co. Maloney kept the Elmira traction system in fine running order.  In 1911 he was put in charge of Roricks Glen by the Water Light, which had opened the glen 11 years before.  Through Maloney?s influence Elmira theater lovers enjoyed the cream of summer stock at Roricks ? stars like Walter Catlett, Arthur Hull, Sarah Edwards, Bobby Woolsey, Joe Scott Welsh, Arthur Cunningham and Janet Velie.  Roricks finally closed in 1918 and the theater remained dark until the spring of 1932 when it burned.

The dance pavilion, used in the 1960s as a Boy Scout facility, was burned as a safety measure, early in 1976.

Thomas Byrne - History of Chemung County to 1975
Pages 532-533
Included here because of the Boy Scouts use of Roricks Glen after it closed

"broken" on the same site for the present YWCA building on May 22, 1951. Because of the Korean War, construction costs soared; and it became necessary to conduct another fund drive among a select list of donors. Again the money was raised.

The beautiful brick structure "complete with swimming pool" was dedicated on May 18, 1952. It has been in constant and increasing use since, not only by the women of Chemung County, but by many community groups.

From the beginning, the YWCA has been all-inclusive and integrated.  On the occasion of its Golden Anniversary, The Sunday Telegram reported that the YWCA was used weekly by as many as 1,500 people, more than 70,000 in a year.

From the early Bible classes, YWCA activities have been broadened to include household arts and crafts, clubs and classes for girls in business and industry, the Newcomers Club (the first such club in any YWCA in the United States), extensive physical education classes with emphasis on slimming; USO parties, servicemen?s wives clubs, an International Club and two clubs that pay particular attention to the needs of black girls and women ? the Nannie Burroughs club and the CFM Club.

The YWCA has made swimming instruction available to all ages.  It also has a ?Children?s Gym? and a nursery for mothers who wish to participate in recreational programs.

Although hard-hit by the flood of 1972, the YW has rebounded.  Miss Betsy Boland, named in July 1973, is the current director.  Long active in YWCA work here, she is a former president of the association.

Boy Scouts
The history of Boy Scouting in Chemung County goes back to Sept. 27, 1910, when Troop A was organized under the sponsorship of the Central YMCA of Elmira, of which John H. Irons was general secretary.

Some 60 boys were enrolled and the first troop committee included Mr. Irons, the Rev. Lew Williams, Robert York, Capt. William A. Turnbull, John T. Smith and Walter H. Messimer.

Troops 1 and 7 came along in 1914.  It was then that a group of Elmira men began to build the movement.  In this group were Judge Walter Lloyd-Smith, M. Doyle Marks, the Rev. A. G. Cornwell, Dr. S. D. Harrison, Edward J. Dunn, Atty. Richard H. Thurston, Harry C. Romayne, Rufus Stanley and Frederick C. Tomlinson.

This group carried on until March, 1916, when the Elmira Area Council of Boy Scouts was organized and received its charger from the growing Boy Scouts of America.  Officers of that first council were:  President, R. T. Lewis; vice presidents, Edward J. Dunn, Francis R. Parker, M. Doyle Marks, Benjamin F. Levy and the Rev. Rudolph Viewig; secretary, William R. chalice, and treasurer, E. O. Eldridge.  The first scout commissioner was Frederick C. Tomlinson.

The new council's first event was a gathering held on Memorial Day that year (1916) at Clark's Glen.  So successful was it that the first annual Field Day was arranged for Oct. 12 of that same year on land maintained by Mr. Tomlinson at the foot of Warner Ave.  One hundred fifty boys participated.

The first Court of Honor included Dr. Frank W. Ross, Judge Charles B. Swartwood, Recorder Otis H. Gardner and Levi. W. Herrick.

Many other adult leaders helped build Boy Scouting in Elmira.

Early in 1917, Clarence L. Drumm was employed as the council's first paid executive and, about the same time, the Elmira Area Council was incorporated.  In June, 1920, I. Edward Holsinger came to Elmira as scout executive and the movement continued to grow.  At the time of Mr. Holsinger's unexpected death in 1928, the Elmira Area council boasted 867 Scouts and nearly 300 adult volunteer workers.  There were 34 troops, of which eight were in Schuyler County, which had become a part of the Elmira Area Council in 1926.

Arthur F. Baker was hired in November, 1928, as Elmira scout executive.  Robert P. McDowell then was scout commissioner.  Herman Griswold was president.

Mr. Baker served as executive for six years (1928-34), and was followed by Carl F. Northrup, who held the post for 15 years (1935-1949).  He, in turn, was succeeded by Kenneth O. Frasier, who was scout executive for 23 years, from October, 1949, until his retirement in May, 1972.  the present scout executive is Joseph G. DeCanio.  Mrs. Ruth Rigdon has been the office manager and the right hand to the scout executives for years and has played an active role in progress of the movement.

Permanent scout camps began to be discussed by the Elmira Area Council as early as 1916.  Scout Field on Warner Ave., donated by Commissioner Tomlinson, was used for many years, and another contribution to scouting was made in the use of Stanley Farm, where Camp Ge-Ha-Da was held in 1921 and 1922.

In 1923, the council leased a camp site on the east side of Seneca Lake between Lodi and North Hector and, after several successful summer camps, the board purchased the 25 acres of woodland in 1928 and named it Camp Seneca.  That camp's facilities have been expanded many times over the years and still is ranked high as a Boy Scout camp.

Meanwhile, the Boy Scouts had been using the Roricks Glen Reservation for overnight camping [File:  byrne533.jpg inserted here] and special events.  In 1944, a 95-acre Roricks Glen plot was purchased for $4,500 by a group of five Elmira businessmen deeply interested in the scout movement.  They were Harold Varn, Richard G. Raitt, James R. Beecher, John E. Sullivan and Verner A. Bovik, and they deeded the woodland area to the Boy Scouts.  A few weeks later a campaign was launched to raise $21,000 to cover the price of purchase and cost of rehabilitating the site for use by the scouts.  The fund-raising campaign was sponsored by the Rotary and Exchange Clubs and the Scout Council.  At dedication ceremonies conducted at the bridge spanning the Chemung Rive, Frank E. Tripp was master of ceremonies and he told the 1,000 scouts and leaders present that they were "falling heir to one of the most lovely spots there is."

In November, 1956, the newly-built Frank Tripp Training and Administrative Center was dedicated at Roricks and was named in honor of the Elmira newspaper publisher for his long association with Roricks Glen and the Boy Scouts.  Garth A. Shoemaker, long-time Scouts' booster, was then president of the council.

The Boy Scout offices, located for years in the Federation Bldg., took up new quarters in the Roricks Glen center, and it became a popular as well as a beautiful site for scout activities.  However, the flood of 1972 washed out the Chemung River Bridge and a road leading to the Center, making it inaccessible.  For a period, vandals caused some damage to the building.  Meanwhile, the Boy Scouts set up temporary headquarters in the former Knights of Columbus Bldg. on East church St. while a new road to the Roricks Glen center was being constructed.

The Elmira Area Boy Scout Council became the Sullivan Trail Council in October, 1947.  It has had four districts since its early days - the Kanaweola District, comprising the Elmira area north of the Chemung River; the Big Horn District, including the area south of he river; the Big Hi Horse District, of Big Flats, Elmira Heights and Horseheads, and the Seneca Drums District, representing scouts of Schuyler County.

The Sullivan Trail Council now boasts 104 units, including Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Explorer Posts.  The three units include 3,227 boys and there are 1,227 adult leaders.  Among the top events the boys participate in are the annual Camporee and Scout-O-Ramas, in which the boys demonstrate their skills before large spectator crowds.

The Eagle Scout award, the highest honor the boys can attain, has been awarded to innumerable boys, while the council also has presented Silver Beaver awards, the highest honor for adults, to many area persons for outstanding work.

The dean of Boy Scout council commissioners was Robert P. McDowell, who served with great honor for 22 years.  Second in longevity, and with many accomplishments, too, was Howard Stage, who served 13 years.  From 1918 when the first commissioner was elected, there have been nine men who have held that post.

The commissioners and the years they served have been:

Hi Joyce
And here is my father, Frank Heath having a solo picnic on the stones in 1923.
There must be a more comfortable place?

Terry Heath
Cheltenham UK [August 2008] 

Chemung County NY
Published On Tri-Counties Site On 12 MAY 2008
By Joyce M. Tice