Skating pond between Freeland and Upper Lehigh, ca. 1939

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History of Freeland, Pa.
Ice skating

What's on this page:
  • Skating near the beaver dam along the road to Upper Lehigh
  • Skating on the ice rink made near the public park
  • Skating at Rossi’s on east Carbon street
  • Meehan’s Rink
  • Buying ice skates, getting them sharpened
At top left, cropped from a Norm Zeisloft photo from Ed Merrick showing skaters on the frozen skating pond along the Upper Lehigh road, circa 1939.

So many of us growing up in the Freeland area over the years enjoyed the fun and exuberance of ice skating. Here are a few photos and newspaper clippings from the 1920s through the 1960s that suggest what that was like.

All newspaper ads and articles on this page researched by Ed Merrick, with exception of the one for M. M. O’Boyle’s hardware store.

This image is cropped from a photo from John Zubach:

 Skating near the Public Park

Skating near the beaver dam along the road to Upper Lehigh

 Skating pond between Freeland and Upper Lehigh, ca. 1939 From Ed Merrick: “This is a photo taken in 1939 of a frozen pond along the Freeland-Upper Lehigh road. It was taken by Norm Zeisloft, a Freeland native, who became a photographer in the Air Force and later worked at the St. Petersburg Times, now the Tampa Bay Times, where I served as an editor for 32 years. I remember skating on such ponds in the woods, so this photo is especially precious to me. I remember skating there and gathering around a bonfire to get warm.”

Marion Denion also remembers this pond being a very popular place to skate in the 1930s-1940s, and that people would build fires around the pond to warm up at.

From the Plain Speaker, December 7, 1940:
Skating Is Good
“Crowds are enjoying the ice skating at the Beaver dam near Upper Lehigh. The dam has frozen solid during the recent cold spell. Caretaker Tommy Kresge invites the public to come to Upper Lehigh to enjoy the skating. A skating exhibition will be given Sunday afternoon at 2:30 o’clock by several local experts and a large crowd is expected.”

1898 proposal for an alternate Freeland-Upper Lehigh road My dad’s family and many Upper Lehigh families walked from Upper Lehigh to Freeland to go to church each week, and according to my uncle Johnny they walked up past that pond and came out in Freeland somewhere around Yale or Ridge and then walked up the hill. Ed Merrick shared this clipping from the Freeland Tribune, October 17, 1898, when some discussions were happening about making a new road to Upper Lehigh, which might have gone right through this pond. I don’t know why the current road was considered to be inadequate in 1898 – maybe it hadn’t been paved yet?

Skating on the ice rink made near the public park

These three photos came from John Zubach, and they were faded like this when I got them. In the next row below I’ve cropped them closer and changed the coloring of some of them.

 Skating near the Public Park  Skating near the Public Park  Skating near the Public Park

 Skating near the Public Park  Skating near the Public Park  Skating near the Public Park

Back at the turn of the previous century, there was a stream flowing along the east end of the Public Park. In July 1907 there were articles in the Plain Speaker about improvements to the park that were being discussed, one of them being a possible swimming pond.
Excerpt from July 25, 1907 article: “[Mrs. Coxe] is fascinated with the idea of a swimming pond for the boys along the stream east of the park and has requested the committee to try and secure a tract of land from the Highland Land & Improvement Co. for that purpose.”

I don’t know whether the stream was above ground then, whether it went below ground later, and whether that was where the water came from for this ice skating pond next to the park.

From the Plain Speaker, January 10, 1942:
Legion Ice Skating Rink Open
“The Legionnaires of Post 473, Freeland American Legion, wish to announce that their skating rink on Front street is now open and the public is invited to use it. The boys have worked hard to make this skating recreational center for the young people of the community.
The rink will be operated under the supervision of the local Legionnaires and will offer skating instruction to both adults and children who may want some coaching. Legionnaire William Schultz who is quite an expert skater will give instruction when on the rink.”

From the Standard-Speaker, December 12, 1946:
Getting Rink In Shape
“Mareno Rossi, of Birkbeck street, is busily engaged with a force of workmen getting a skating rink in shape near the Freeland Public Park. A cement block building is being erected to provide shelter for the skaters in changing their skating paraphernalia.
It has been many years since Freeland had a public ice skating rink and should be popular especially with the younger set. This winter has been unusual with little snow so far and high temperatures which is not typical weather for ice skating. Mr. Rossi has a great deal of work to do before completion is in sight and has hopes of having it in readiness before the end of winter.”

Skating at Rossi’s on east Carbon street

From the Plain Speaker, January 8, 1949:
Ice Skating at Rossi’s Rink ad, 1949

From the Standard-Speaker, December 19, 1949:
Ice Skaters Active
“Ice skating enthusiasts were active during the past few weeks as cold weather provided ideal conditions for their sport. Warm weather and rain over the past weekend cut down on the activity somewhat.
Skaters came out in large numbers to the Rossi rink at the east end of town, and many also took to the ice on small ponds in this area. The Rossi rink was enlarged this year and is capable of accommodating a large number of skaters. Improvements, including a juke box and spotlights for night skating, have been made.”

Ed Merrick: “I do remember the foundation across from Griffith's. Either a house had been torn down, or one was never built over the foundation. Water would pool in it in the winter, and we would go there to skate before Marino Rossi opened his skating pond down by the railroad trestle on the old Highland road.”

Meehan’s Rink

em-AA_Meehan1Feb1936w.jpg From the Standard-Speaker, February 1, 1936:
Ad for ice skating at Meehan’s Rink, 1936

From the Plain-Speaker, January 18, 1938:
Opened Ice Rink
“John Meehan, of Front street, local building contractor, has completed repairs to his ice-skating dam in the rear of Park street, between South and Luzerne streets, and has opened it for skating to the public.”

Buying ice skates, getting them sharpened

I think that when I was a kid in the late 1950s-early 1960s, you could buy ice skates at the Western Auto store and Bonomo’s, maybe a couple of other places in town, too.

From the Standard-Speaker, December 22, 1924:

Ice skates for sale at M. M. O’Boyle’s hardware store, 1924

From the Standard-Speaker, December 30, 1924:

Ad for ice skate sharpening by John Klinger, 1924

Beautiful to remember ice skating! I'll share more as I receive / find it.

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