goes: On or about the year 1874 pioneer farmer
George Shadduck decided to transform his 23 acre farm on the
shores of beautiful Lake Erie from cow pasture into a picturesque
public picnic grove and bathing beach. Energized by widespread
approval of this basic recreation facility he soon added a beer
garden, gaming devices, and a dance hall. Thirty-two years later
an area businessman, George H. Blanchat, purchased the property
with the intention of stepping things up a notch (or two
or three). It is said that during an early inspection of the
property with his wife, Josephine, she took up a handful of sand
from the beach taking notice of its crystal-like qualities
as it ran through her fingers and...on May 30, 1907 the Crystal
Beach Park opened for business.
As the years
passed, and business
flourished, a merry-go-round, shooting gallery, ice cream parlour,
boat rental and landing, bowling alley, a bigger refreshment
facility, a prodigious water toboggan slide (from the cliff into
the lake), and additional amusements and rides were added to
May 29, 1925 Mr. Blanchat
arranged to have two of the finest orchestras in the country
play host at the grand opening of one of the most beautiful dance
halls to ever grace the banks of the Great Lakes. It was formally
known as Crystal Gardens.
Bedecked in tones of blushing
pink and apple green the new hall was capable of comfortably
accommodating two thousand (that's right folks - two thousand)
dancers on its hardwood floor. A broad promenade that afforded
enough room for nearly the same number of people embraced the
dance area. Also included were a new refreshment stand, check
room, and spacious lavatories. Throughout the following decades
it was not unusual for folks in the area to dance to the music
of Sammy Kaye, Count Basie, Les Brown, Coon-Sanders, Louis Prima,
Lawrence Welk, Duke Ellington, Xavier Cugat, Tommy and Jimmy
Dorsey, Guy Lumbardo, and many others at the Crystal Gardens
in Vermilion, Ohio.
Sometime in 1928 Mr. Blanchat
added a new ride to the park. This was a roller coaster constructed
of 200, 000 feet of Georgia Pine (some beams measuring 60 feet
in length) and some 20 tons of iron track. For the better part
of the next 30 years this coaster would be the main thrill ride
for the many thousands of people who visited the park every season.
On the night of April 20, 1947
tragedy struck. Fire claimed the two story pavilion housing the
roller-skating rink, penny arcade, refreshment stand, and several
other rides located at the back, or northern part, of the park.
But by July 4th of the same year a new single-story building
housing the arcade and refreshment stand was built to replace
the one lost in the fire. Roller-skating activities were moved
to the Crystal Gardens facility.
James M. Ryan, Blanchat's son-in-law, had assumed management
of the park after Mr. Blanchat passed away in 1938. When Mrs.
Blanchat died in 1952 park ownership passed to her daughters,
Thelma and Eleanor. Ten years later they sold the park land to
the Crystal Development Corporation, headed by Vermilionite James