Louis Kraus and Elsie Dickens
Teacher and Creator of Bertrand Island Amusement Park
Spouse(s): Elsie Dickens
Family tree: Louis Kraus 1888-1955
Bertrand Island Amusement Park, Mt. Arlington, New Jersey
Elsie Dickens, daughter of George Dickens and Eliza Aspinall, immigrants from Derbyshire, England, married Louis Kraus about 1915. In 1920 the couple lived at 73 North Munn Avenue, Newark, New Jersey.
Louis was a manual arts teacher in the Newark public school system, an occupation offering three months of summer vacation, ideal for the seasonal operation of an amusement park. Before 1914, he started construction of Bertrand Island Amusement Park at Mt. Arlington on Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey, also known as "Little Coney Island." Louis did not own or operate most of the attractions at the park. He was a concessionaire who leased rights to the owners of the rides and refreshment stands.
Bertrand Island was called a "trolley park" because Morris County's first public transit system, the Morris County Traction Company, operated trolley cars beginning about 1914 to Bertrand Island Amusement Park on Lake Hopatcong.
The park's attractions included an arcade, carousel, roller coaster, haunted house, rides for children and adults, dancing, refreshment stands, cafeteria, picnic grounds, bathing beach, boat docks, and sightseeing boats.
Bertrand Island's merry-go-round began life as Bob's Carousel on Coney Island at Stillwell Avenue and the Bowery, beneath the Bobs Coaster. The machine was manufactured by the Carver company in Illinois, in the classic era of late 1800s. The customers rode horses and other painted wood carvings three abreast. This carousel was moved to Bertrand Island Amusement Park about 1926. It was sold to Great Adventure when the park closed in 1983.
The famous Wildcat Coaster was constructed by the renowned roller coaster designer Herb Schmeck in 1925. The wooden coaster was the oldest of its kind operating in 1984, the year it closed.
Tuesdays were discount night, and the smaller rides were only a nickle, hence the term "nickel nights," and later a dime.
The park, closed in 1983, and served as the background for part of Woody Allen's film Purple Rose of Cairo shortly before its demolition.
More information can be found in the book by Martin and Laura Kane. Greetings From Bertrand Island Amusement Park. Charleston, SC: Arcadia, 2000. 128 pages, illus.. It is the history of, and a collection of photographs about this trolley park at Lake Hopatcong, NJ.