Resident George Kurtz, left, and a friend ski at the Sanatoga Park hill
SANATOGA PA – The phrase “winter vacation” hardly suited the week-or-so-long break families of school children received earlier this year. There hasn’t been much winter to speak of, and the month-early arrival of crocuses and daffodils means there also has been little opportunity this year to enjoy winter sports like skiing, ice skating, sledding and tobogganing.
That wasn’t always the case, of course. During years of hardy, shivering, snow-filled winters gone by, all of those activities and more could be enjoyed at Sanatoga Park.
This author remembers skating and ice hockey on Sanatoga Lake in the late 1950s. A bonfire sometimes burned by the side of the lake. The ice would be cleared with snow shovels and smoothed out as much as possible; lacking a Zamboni machine, it was all done by hand. The hockey playing field was defined by a framework of 2x4s. No sidewalls for us. When you got checked, you went down.
Nancy Kurtz and John Livingston skate Sanatoga Lake in 1946
Elsie Mayer, a former Sanatoga resident, recalls skating on Sanatoga Lake 30 years earlier, during the 1920s. After arriving home from Pottstown High School on the trolley, she would change clothes and heading to the lake with some friends.
Living on North Pleasant View Road, across from the old Lower Pottsgrove Elementary School, it was quite a walk. They would simply leave from the back of her parents property and walk diagonally toward High Street, sometimes picking up some more friends along the way. There were very few houses in this area in those days so they could walk pretty much in a straight line.
They would emerge at the intersection of Sanatoga Road and High Street near a relative’s home on the northeast corner. From there, it was a walk down Sanatoga Road – past the Sanatoga Inn (now Cutillo’s) – to the lake. After an evening of skating they went home the same way, using the only power they had … the same two feet that had taken them there.
The park’s most popular winter attraction today is the hill on the recreation area just east of and across Sanatoga Road from the lake’s edge. It can be a great place for children to use their sleds with supervision.
Editor’s note: The Lower Pottsgrove Historical Society was formed in 1985 to share the heritage of Lower Pottsgrove Township with its residents. It meets on the second Wednesday of every month at its museum and offices in the former Sanatoga Chapel, 2341 E. High St., Sanatoga PA. Author and society member Glenn Isett has joined society President Beth Scherer in writing about Lower Pottsgrove history monthly for The Post.