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Shady Nook Park evolved from a cow pasture and bread wagon

By Staff | Sep 8, 2016

PHOTO PROVIDED Henry Glidewell, born July 12, 1870, built Shady Nook Park during the mid 1900s. The park flourished until his death on August 3, 1942.

HUGHESVILLE – Traveling north on Rt. 220, shortly after turning at the intersection of Rts. 220 and 405, a short distance to the left is a place called the Angus Inn.

However before this place existed, a lot of history and memories took place on this parcel of land. A glance back in time just before 1920 will show how the road from Penn Township crossed the southern part of the land which became Shady Nook Park. “This road intersected the Hughesville and Picture Rocks Road in front of the Price home, then crossed the Muncy Creek through the Lyon’s Covered Bridge and followed the present Reservoir Drive to the north end of Hughesville,” stated Charles Glidewell who grew up near the park owned by his grandfather, Henry Glidewell.

Some can possibly remember the structure when it was the activity center for the park for many years. In 1902 an iron bridge was built across Muncy Creek further downstream and part of the eastern abutment still can be seen. The bridge was torn down in the summer of 1974 when the new Rt. 220 was rebuilt and a new bridge was added.

Originally the corner lot property was marked by a large oak tree of the Schug, Price, Swisher and Ball’s Mill Property according to Charles Glidewell. Fred Swisher owned the south side and most of his property was grown over with brush and trees, but the Mill property was always kept cleared. It was used to pasture cattle. Some nearby Hughesville residents even led their family cow to the land to graze for the day.

“There were times when David H. Price drove his dairy herd across this area to the creek for water,” added Charles. He reflected back to a time when a small gypsy party would sometimes camp on the Mill property for a few days while making birch baskets.

Around 1912 to 1914 Henry Glidewell purchased Fred Swisher’s property. “Glidewell was a huckster who lived at Steck Town, but the facilities were too small,” noted Charles about his grandfather. “He enlarged the Swisher barn, so that he had room for his horses, wagons, and dressing area for poultry and veal.”

Henry Glidewell would drive to Williamsport with his meat selling it from his wagon. Later, he would sell it to the people in Hughesville. He added milk and bread to his wares, and later he decided to sell ice cream, soft drinks and candy from his bread wagon.

Soon he was making a profit, especially on holidays and weekends. Henry decided to clear some of the land he purchased from Swisher and added some picnic tables. In no time picnic parties began to take place during the day while hot dog and corn roasts became popular in the evenings.

“The wagon became too small for his business, so he constructed a small store with a porch on three sides and increased the variety of foods sold,” added Charles Glidewell.

Since Henry’s property was near the dam, it became very popular in winter for skating and summer months brought many for swimming. At first, he called the place “Glidewell’s Grove”. But in the August 7th issue of the Hughesville Mail, Henry declared his place to be a public site named “Shady Nook Park.”

As popularity increased as a picnic ground for many occasions, a shelter was needed in case of stormy weather so in the spring of 1922, Henry erected a pavilion on the north side of his refreshment stand with a kitchen added to service the public. “This pavilion was 30×60 feet and was enclosed by doors which could be fastened to the rafters when it was open,” declared Charles.

Henry also installed an electric piano which became very popular for dancing. The first public dance held inside the pavilion was on Thursday evening, June 1, 1922. “Those dances became very popular with both watchers and dancers. People would sit in their cars and watch the dancing and listen to music.”

As the demand for the park increased, Henry decided to build two cabins for tourists. One was a double and built on the “old approach to the Lyons Bridge.” The other cabin was a single located on the north side of the park. Neither of the cabins had running water, so guests had to use facilities that were a distance of at least 200 yards. However, in spite of the lack of these conveniences, the cabins were rented frequently during the summer months.

Charles told of a time when the famous athlete, Jim Thorpe, came to stay in one of the cabins on two different occasions during the late thirties. “His mission in this area was to look for a suitable site for a boys camp.” Thorpe was employed at the time by the federal government. While Thorpe was in the area, he became friends with Clayton Houseknecht and the two acquaintances would go coon hunting together. “Jim attempted to buy two pups from Clayton because they looked as if they would make good coon dogs, but Clayton refused to sell them as he wanted them himself,” said Charles.

Shady Nook Park continued to flourish until the death of Henry Glidewell on August 3, 1942.

Shortly after that, the park went up for auction, and after the flood of 1972, the dam was also gone. Since then Charles H. Yeagle purchased the property and made many changes so he could open it up as a beer garden.

Passing by the Angus Inn, one could only imagine the pavilion in its place and remember a time when family picnics and gatherings were simplified in the good ‘ol days of summer fun.