Eagles Mere Toboggan Slide
There are a few winter activities that really take me back to my childhood. One of them is sledding, or, more specifically, holding on for dear life as I careened down a snow-covered cornfield. The trick was to steer clear of the six-inch remains of cornstalks that made perfect racing lanes with painful consequences if you landed on one. My siblings and friends would stay out for hours until our fingers and toes passed the point of numbness right into pain. Most of the time we didn't go inside until our mothers called us for supper. Our pants were so snow covered and frozen that they stood on their own after we took them off. Sadly, there is a generation of children who may never experience that type of first-person fun. I say first-person because the fun that many kids experience on a daily basis is on the other end of a video game controller.
In Eagles Mere, Sullivan County, you'll find a throwback to the good ole' days at the Ice Toboggan Slide. The slide is actually part of Eagles Mere history. At the turn of the 20th century it wasn't uncommon to see children sliding down Lake Avenue and onto the frozen lake on toboggans. But, it was the ingenuity of Capt. E.S. Chase, a prominent Eagles Mere resident, that made the toboggan slide a wintertime attraction. In 1904, with the help of the town's men and boys, Chase built the toboggan slide, illuminating it with lights using electricity generated by the waters of Hunters Lake four miles away.
According to historians, the first to test out the slide was Harry Stevens, who had no sled but navigated the hill on an iron scoop shovel. The men raced after Stevens when they saw a cloud of smoke surrounding him. Apparently the friction created by the fast moving shovel caused the seat of Harry's pants to burn through. Other than Harry's mishap, the slide was deemed ready to go. It wasn't long before sleds and toboggans arrived and an Eagles Mere tradition began.
Today, the time-honored tradition continues with a slide constructed using Capt. Chase's original plans and method for grooving the ice. One-foot thick, 300-pound blocks of ice are carved from the lake and trudged up the hill and laid side by side to create an ice slide like no other.
The Eagles Mere slide is not an individual experience; the toboggans are meant to be enjoyed by family and friends. Small toboggans will fit six adults and cost $15 per hour, while the larger eight-man toboggans cost $20 per hour. Riders are guaranteed at least two runs per hour, and the thrill is worth every penny. It takes about 50 seconds, at speeds of up to 40 mph, to blaze down the hill and across the frozen lake.
Each year, the attraction raises thousands of dollars for local fire departments that volunteer their time setting up and running the slide. Cold weather, a frozen lake and lots of volunteers are the necessary ingredients to build the slide, so check the website for updates on when and if it will open in 2012.
If you go:
Eagles Mere Toboggan
Eagles Mere, PA 17731
570-525-3244 (info recording)
Hours of Operation:
Friday: 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Toboggans are rented as available up to one hour before closing.
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