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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Don’t Believe Everything You Read

Most of us understand that not everything we read, especially on the internet, is true. As a teacher, I believe everyone should read, and read a lot. But don’t just take the author’s word for it. Don’t think that just because it’s published that the ideas were necessarily vetted.

The clipping above is a nice encapsulation of this lesson. It shows the midway of Rock Springs Park at the turn of the last century, including owner C.A. Smith’s crown jewel “The World’s Greatest Scenic Raiway” (right). A few of the caption facts are accurate, like the detail about the slow moving scenic ride being replaced by The Cyclone Roller Coaster and the fact that Smith owned the traction company, but many other “facts” are misleading or utterly wrong.

Here’s a few examples:

1. This photograph could not have been taken in 1898 as The World’s Greatest Scenic Railway was not constructed until 1906.

2. The Cyclone was profitable, but not for Smith. It was built as part of the park’s revitalization under C.C. Macdonald in 1926.

3. C.A. Smith sent park manager Mr. (J.H.) Maxwell not “Mr. Michaels” to Philadelphia for the plans for the Scenic Railway ride and not The Cyclone.

4. It was the Scenic Railway and not the Cyclone which cost 5 cents a ride and made back Smith’s investment in its first year of operation. The Cyclone cost three 5-cent tickets or in some cases "two nickels and a bottle cap" per ride.

Fans of Rock Springs Park appreciate any coverage the park receives in local newspapers and most especially seeing wonderful images of the park such as this one. But when it comes to the facts and details of the park’s history listen to your grandpa and “Don’t believe everything you read.”

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