Joseph Dando, “Indecent Assault”, 14 August 1946

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In the twenties, hundreds of thousands of people visited Cascade park every summer from across western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio to enjoy its amusements, its man-made lake and its carefully presented scenery. The park suffered during the depression, never to regain its former popularity, but the second week of August, 1946, was busier than normal for that period. Large family picnics were held every day by bible study classes, the Lawrence County Red Cross chapter, former pupils of Mahoningtown school, Lutheran women of the western conference of the Pittsburgh synod, the Grace Bible church, the Christian church and the Daughters of Rebekah. Everyone agreed that there were fewer mosquitoes than there had been in previous years, perhaps on account of the long dry spell.

During one of those picnics, a man took a four-year-old girl into the woods and repeatedly molested her. The following week, Joseph Dando, a fifty-one-year-old man from Hamilton street, was arrested and charged with open lewdness and indecent assault of a minor. He spent a month in jail in default of $1,000 bail before being released. The case was eventually abandoned without a trial.

That year, the dam across the Big Run broke and Cascade park’s lake ran dry. In the fifties, after the dam was repaired, the park was given an overhaul and enjoyed better attendance than it had for years but before long the lake began to silt up and had to be repeatedly dredged over the next two decades. In 1972, the dam broke again and the lake drained away for good. The town had no money to pay for the repairs. The park’s rollercoaster and other rides fell into disuse and were torn down in the eighties. The public buildings, paths and facilities were in disrepair by the end of the century, when the dilapidated open-air swimming pool was shut down. An annual nostalgia weekend featuring classic cars and oldies cover bands, called “Back to the ‘50s”, is Cascade park’s only significant remaining attraction.

Sources: New Castle News (“Section C YLB”; 7 Aug 1946, “Lutheran Woman To Picnic At Park”, “Loyal Band Class”; 8 Aug 1946, “Edenburg”; 9 Aug 1946, “Section C Families Picnic At Cascade”, “Mahoningtown School Reunion Attracts Many”; 10 Aug 1946, “Section F Picnics At Cascade Park”, “Rachel Rebekah Picninc At Park”, “First Aid Club Has Picnic Supper”, “Old Mission Picnic”; 9 Aug 1946, “Pa Newc Observes”; 15 Aug 1946, “Arrest Suspect In Park Assault”; 17 Aug 1946, “Delay Hearing Of Man Held In Cascade Assault”; 11 Sep 1946, “Returns Are Made by Grand Jury”).

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