Country Greats Played Here - New River Ranch

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Location

New River Ranch (former)
1413 Conowingo Road Entrance Just East of Car Lot (subject to confirmation)
Rising Sun, MD 21911
United States
39° 41' 38.6772" N, 76° 7' 26.6772" W

About

There were two picnic groves, New River Ranch in Rising Sun, MD, and Sunset Park in nearby West Grove, PA, where the biggest names in country and roots music had played, ex., Eddie Arnold, Minnie Pearl, George Jones, Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash, Hank Williams, Sr., Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. Jerry Garcia visited Sunset Park and picked up a lot of things that went into Grateful Dead music. I had read about these places years ago, and they were in fact an impetus for starting Cyber Plaque, to mark these great sites on the Web, but I lost the article and could not remember the locations. George Jones died a few days ago (first entry on Cyber Plaque was 4/28/13, and it got erased accidentally), and there was an obituary in this weekend's Wall Street Journal that mentioned both places. That led me to the article where I first heard of them, at http://www.bluegrasswest.com/ideas/sunsetpark.htm, a Philadelphia Weekly article of 10/31/01. There is quite a bit on the Web about the two parks and the tapes of performances at them that are being mined and archived. I believe that New River was hopping in the 50's and early 60's, and Sunset was open into the 90s. If I have the addresses wrong or this information is inaccurate, please comment below with corrections. The address above for New River is the closest I can find.

Created by:

plaquemaster
Thu, 07/11/2013 - 10:26

Comments

My father played at both parks most likely in the early 60's. His name was Bob Walsh and he played the steel guitar. I would love to find more information about recordings etc that may have been made. I have photos of him performing at the park. Is there more information available about the park etc? Theresa

Theresa, there is quite a bit on the Web to start your research. Google, and look up on youtube, various combinations of "New River Ranch Sunset Park" with "recordings," and also look up "Leon Kagarise," the archivist. Good luck and let us know how you make out. --- Frank at Cyber Plaque.

New River Ranch was on the Octoraro Creek on Rte 1, behind what is now a lot with used cars. You can still tell where the entrance road used to be, just east of the used cars.

Thank you so much, "roscoe"! I've changed the address to reflect what your information and Google satellite and street view suggest to me is the right address. I'm always willing to tweak an address as more information comes in. [Editor]

There was a five-foot high dam in the Octoraro Creek here for a grain mill, at New River Ranch Falls. It has been removed to allow migratory fish to pass. See the comment and links about this at http://www.americanwhitewater.org/content/River/detail/id/732. I found a flyer that places New River Ranch at 2 miles north of Conowingo Dam on Route 1, at http://archives.exploreharford.com/gallery.php?photo=413. That would put New River Ranch just east of Banks Recyclers, but that does not sound right based on the described location for the falls at the site. I think it was probably closer to 3 miles north of the Conowingo Dam.

An aunt and uncle and my parents managed and operated NRR for a short time in the late 50s and early 60s. Are you aware it was named for the New River that runs through WV/VA/NC? My parents grew up on the New River in Ashe County, NC, my uncle is from neighboring Grayson County, VA. My parents currently live in NC, my uncle is still in Cecil County. They may have useful info on the history of NRR. If interested email me jhh27012@aol.com mention NRR in the subject line. Trivia note of interest: As a child I sat on George Jones lap, he was baby sitting behind stage awaiting his set. The performers often had babysitting duties back stage.

There is Cecil County Historical Society info and a poster for Bill Monroe performing on 7/8/51 at https://www.newspapers.com/image/141143074/?terms=%22new%2Briver%2Branch%22%2B%22rising%2Bsun%22, which is the Cecil Whig, p. D2, 5/8/15. Also, a Hank Williams Poster, 7/29/51, at https://www.newspapers.com/image/301213435/?terms=%22new%2Briver%2Branch%22%2B%22rising%2Bsun%22, which is the Cecil Whig, p. D2, 6/16/17.

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