LEWISTOWN - After two years of researching local history, collecting community photos, documenting the findings and reviewing his own experience, Paul Fagley's book on the history of Derry Township Community Park is going to print.
Entitled "Memories of Kishacoquillas Park," the book presents the heyday times of this community landmark, which was once a popular amusement park, through more than 300 pages of color photos, illustrations and printed memorabilia, Fagley said.
"For this book, I decided to lay it out in scrapbook-like format," Fagley said. "The book is done in landscape format so that it can have large full-page pictures. Nearly every page has some item on it (like) a photo, a copy of an ad from The Sentinel, an image of a ticket or some other ephemera."
Sentinel photo by BRADLEY KREITZER
Bob Miller displays a photograph of a building in Kish Park while standing in front of that same building at Derry Township Community Park. Paul Fagley’s book ‘Memories of Kishacoquillas Park,’ includes more than 300 pages of color photos, illustrations and printed memorabilia, much of it from Miller’s family, from the park’s operation up until 1972 when Hurricane Agnes forced its permanent closure.
The idea for the book came to Fagley in 2010 after giving a walking tour of the park for the local Boyscout Camporee. The tour included photos from the Mifflin County Historical Society and an article from Common Ground magazine, he said.
"While I was there, I ran into Bob Miller, the youngest child of John and Gloria Miller, who owned the park before Derry Township purchased it," Fagley said. "We started to talk and eventually ... came to the conclusion that the time was here to tell the history of the park. They have been a tremendous source of information, photos and stories."
Shortly after talking with the Miller family, Fagley began to research the park in depth. The book was originally supposed to take one year to write, but with the increasing amount of information the writing process extended into the second year, Fagley said.
"Information on the park is the most requested, non-genealogical inquiry the historical society receives, and yet they have little to offer people," Fagley said. "Information and pictures came from The Sentinel microfilms archive, online research and networking with friends and colleagues. There was even more information than I imagined."
Today, the park still holds memories and remnants of the past, Fagley said. Most of the buildings that make up Derry Township Community Park were the original buildings that housed amusement park rides and games, he said.
"The Theatre-in-the-Park was the old Toy Store and, moving down the row, the next building, with the blank front, was the Fun-in-the-Dark ride," Fagley said. "The garages were the arcade, the Skooter building was the bumper cars and the park office was the shooting gallery. The building opposite it was the concession stand."
Having gone to the amusement park as a kid, these remaining pieces of physical history recall fond memories, Fagley said. The book will provide a complete account of the place once known as Kish Park, and will fill a gaping hole of the community story, he added.
"Memories of Kishacoquillas Park" is expected to be ready for distribution by Thanksgiving and will be sold for $32.95 plus tax. Pre-orders are now being taken by the Mifflin County Historical Society at 242-1022. The official sale date of the book will also be announced on the Kish Park Project Facebook page. Pre-orders will receive a $5 discount through Nov. 20.