August 2023 Update – Legion Carnival

The August updates to the History Project included more on the Quarry Swim Club and the American Legion Carnival. (See Site Updates for more.)

By the numbers, we finished the month with 300 files in the Archives, including 150 documents and 150 maps and aerials. The Image Gallery now has 3513 files, and the Panoramas Collection has 44 images. The Pamphlet Collection has 212 documents, and the Property Reports Collection has 87 documents, with 58 Site Survey reports and 29 Property Briefs. The interactive History Map includes 775 addresses with 102 historic places in Hopewell Borough. The History Project YouTube Channel is hosting 28 videos, plus 16 external local history videos, including 6 videos of History Project presentations. Please keep the materials coming!

Hopewell Quarry and Swim Club

c1955 – High Diver [Lowe]

In preparation for the September talk, Memories of the Hopewell Quarry: Stones to Swimming, there were several posts exploring the stories of the Quarry.

These covered the rock quarry that made crushed stone for local roads in the 1890s, and the Quarry Swim Club that developed in the 1920s and now has been preserved as open space.

The Boats and Floats post highlighted the variety of watercraft and rafts used at the Quarry, including Navy life rafts, long boards, canoes, and inner tubes.

1969 – Inner Tubes [Lowe]
2018 – Stacked Inner Tubes [Nancy Kennedy]

The Hopewell Valley Quarries post discussed the multiple other quarries operating in the Hopewell Valley in the late 1800s and into the 1900s, and highlighted three quarries in Hopewell Township that are still visible in our local landscape today.

These were making crushed stone from diabase rock (“trap rock”) for use on the local roads – to replace the existing dirt roads with solid macadam roads.

Hopewell Valley diabase sites (orange) [1909 Geological Survey]

The Legion Carnival Train and Booths

The American Legion Carnival held in the 1960s and 1970s is still remembered with fondness: “My absolute favorite memory growing up in Hopewell.” This annual event was held at the time at the post home of Hopewell Valley American Legion Post 339, on Van Dyke Road in Hopewell Township. The event included kiddie rides, amusements, refreshments, and free dancing to live music.

We were able to uses several collections of photos from the 1970s to illustrate the variety of Carnival booths, including amusement games to win prizes, refreshment stands, and kid’s activities. The color snapshots of the 1973 Carnival are from Hopewell Post 339 Scrapbooks.

The black and white photos of the 1978 American Legion Carnival were kindly contributed by Gary Saretzky. These focus on the people at the event – in the crowd, and working the booths for games and food.

Gary Saretzky photos of the 1978 American Legion Carnival

People also remember the Carnival Train, a trolley / bus that ferried passengers to the Legion grounds on Van Dyke Road from around the Hopewell area.

40 and 8 / Legion Carnival Train [Andree Wyckoff]

We now have a photo of this vehicle, thanks to Andree Wyckoff. This is apparently the local train, marked “Mercer County, N. J.,” but unfortunately the location in the photo is unclear and the photo is undated.

These train-looking vehicles were operated by a charitable honor society for veterans, the “Forty & Eight.” The group was formed in 1920 after the First World War, and named for the French boxcars that carried American doughboys to the front lines. The boxcars were labelled “40/8,” for “quarente hommes et huit chevaux” – since they were designed to carry forty men or eight horses. The organization then has carried this shared experiences as the theme for its name, symbols, and activities.

Please contact us if you have – or know of – other images and materials that we can share to help illuminate the history of our Hopewell Valley.

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