Stoughton's Beach

Tucked away in the forest along the banks of Slippery Rock Creek was once a magical park called Stoughton’s Beach. The sounds of laughter resonated above the joyful melodies of the carousel while the buttery aroma of freshly-popped popcorn wafted through the breeze. Stoughton’s Beach opened in 1932 on part of Saul Stoughton’s farm and quickly became a favorite recreational attraction with both locals and Pittsburghers who came to escape the city heat and camp in the rustic cabins along Slippery Rock Creek.

The park’s main attraction was a heated swimming pool, claimed to be the largest in Pennsylvania. For further excitement, the pool had two diving boards: a 10-foot long board open to the public and a 20-foot long board for skilled divers. Every Sunday there was a diving exhibition where divers would plummet off the 20-foot diving board into the water, which was set aflame with fire and gasoline. This trick ended in 1941 when gasoline was rationed during World War II and the park was temporarily closed due to lack of traveling customers.

Another favorite activity at Stoughton’s Beach was the carousel, built in 1915 by the Herschell-Spillman Company. The ride accommodated 40 people on its hand-carved horses complete with real horsehair (which was later replaced with twine as people pulled out the original hair). As the park declined in the late 1950s, then-owner Albert MacDonald sold the carousel to an antique dealer for $400. The carousel is now located in Maryland in Wheaton Regional Park.

During the heyday of Stoughton’s Beach, the park also contained a roller skating pavilion with live organist, dance hall, custard stand, popcorn stand, and a penny arcade. Not only could people be found splashing in the famous pool, but often people would sunbathe on the rocks in the creek as well as swim in its waters. Originally camping at Stoughton’s Beach cost $5 for the whole summer; cabins were later built upon request of the campers.

Stoughton’s Beach, which had been renamed Rock Falls Park in its later years, closed in 1975. Although it is no longer an amusement park, Rock Falls is still open as a forested park where people can enjoy camping and swimming in Slippery Rock Creek. The park also hosts a variety of musical festivals, as well as a local farmer’s market.