Carlisle’s Ice Skating Park: 1870s

1872 Atlas of Cumberland County showing Mrs. E. Potts’ property and the “Skating Park”

The 1872 Atlas of Cumberland County shows Mrs. E. Potts’ property and the “Skating Park” on the south side of North Hanover Street extended (Harrisburg Road) between Kerr Street and “The Point” where N. East Street meets the Harrisburg Pike.

Ice skating parks were very popular in the United States from the 1860s to the 1890s. They were not just places to skate, but places to socialize during the dark days of winter. In 1870, Mrs. Elizabeth Potts, of Carlisle, built a skating park on her property on North Hanover Street extended (Harrisburg Turnpike.) The editor of the Carlisle Herald visited the newly constructed park and described it in an article in his newspaper on December 22, 1870.

“The Skating Park. We visited a few days ago, the skating park now in course of construction by Mrs. E. D. Potts, on North Hanover Street. The grounds are enclosed by a high board fence, and occupy about 208 feet fronting on the turnpike, by 120 feet in depth. On one corner of the lot is erected a frame building in which is the ticket office, setting room, dining room and kitchen, and immediately in the rear is a large covered platform, heated by a stove, for accommodation of the skaters. The labor of constructing this park has been immense, and large gangs of workmen have been employed for some time past. The price of admission will be a season ticket, $5.00; single admission, 25 cents, and the park will be open from 10 to 5 o’clock in the day, and from 6 to 10 o’clock in the evening. We hope to see the park well patronized during the present winter, and that it may be as great a source of revenue to the proprietress, as it will be a luxury to the citizens. Wednesday noon—the water was turned on the rink this forenoon, and if the present cold snap continues the lovers of skating can be on the lookout for lots of pleasure.”

The following year Mrs. Potts provided entertainment at the skating park.

“The water has been turned on the skating rink, situated on North Hanover street extended, and it is now open for the present season,” announced the editor of the Carlisle Herald on December 21, 1871. “Mrs. Potts intends, on Christmas day and evening, to give a grand carnival and masquerade ball. This will undoubtedly be a grand and novel affair, and one that will be well patronized by our best citizens.

In the evening there will be a party of ladies and gentlemen, who are experts in skating, who will amuse those present by performing various feats on the ice. During the present season Mrs. Potts has made the rates of admission very low, as follows:

Season tickets for the whole family $5.00, Gentlemen $3.00, Masters’ and Misses’ $2.00, Single admission 10 cents. At the present time, there is a splendid body of ice on the park, and we would invite those fond of this healthful exercise, to pay a visit.”1

Mrs. Potts’ mother, Elizabeth Foland, died in December 1872,2 and Mrs. Potts’ decided to rent the ice skating park. The January 2, 1873 edition of the American Volunteer contained a notice by Mrs. Potts offering to rent several parcels of her property on the Harrisburg Turnpike including the “Rink with a small dwelling house, stable, ice house, etc…The Rink can with but little trouble be converted into a drove yard.”

Elizabeth Potts was the wife of Carlisle cooper Edward D. Potts. The 1870 U. S. Census of Carlisle shows their household consisting of Edward aged 39, Elizabeth aged 32, two daughters and a son. They lived next door to Elizabeth Potts’ mother, Elizabeth Foland, the widow of George Foland. By 1880, Mrs. Potts’ husband had died, and she was living in Philadelphia with her daughters and running a wine and liquor store.3

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References (Sources Available at CCHS in bold)

[1]Carlisle Herald, December 21, 1871.

[2]Will of Elizabeth Foland, Cumberland County Register of Wills, Will Book O-P, 134.

[3] 1880 U S. Census.