Few citizens today are aware of the once remarkable bathing beach on the Ohio River shore at Follansbee. Locals from surrounding communities took the trolleys to enjoy the park. Many ethnic groups used the park for celebrations. A number of prominent citizens had cabins there. The Follansbee High School football games were held at the park until 1927. The Follansbee Pastime baseball team played games in the Ohio Valley Inter-City league there. The Follansbee Blakley Athletic Club scheduled football and baseball games there as well. Hundreds of Sunday School picnics, family reunions, and lodge outings were held, with thousands of visitors attending each year. There were bath houses for men and women, picnic tables and benches and a small concession stand. The park had a bandstand for concerts. There were boat docks and a diving raft in the swimming area. The park even employed life guards. Duke, the city mascot and fire dog, was buried there in 1920. (See Timeline Oct. 1920 – “Duke”)
Pastime Park was located behind the current City Firehouse and James Funeral Home. During the 1930s, many of Follansbee’s citizens had small gardens in the park area. The park land was loaned to the community by the Follansbee Brothers and originally maintained by the Pastime Athletic club. Organized in 1919, the club held jubilees and benefits to operate the park including attracting and scheduling events. For years, Al Carey and family acted as the guardians for the Pastime Park and beach during each summer until driven from their tent by chilly weather.
During July 4, 1921, the Herald Star reported that the Pastime bathing beach entertained more people than any resort of its size along the Ohio River. According to the Pastime Athletics Club, it was estimated that at least 5,000 people visited the beach. Hundreds brought baskets and picnicked in the grove. Several small yachts were busy all day carrying picnickers here from Steubenville, Mingo and Wellsburg. Pastime Park faded away in the late 1930s as a result of river pollution, the expansion of the mills and the creation of a new public park and pool.
Rare insight into daily life at 1920’s Pastime Park-WV Archives
- Steubenville Herald Star, June 22, 1921, p. 5
- Gerald “Peck” Blakley, Oral Interview, July, 2008
- Follansbee Review, “Jubilee by Pastime Club August 19,” May 4, 1922
- Steubenville Herald Star, “Follansbee,” July 5, 1921, p. 9.