A Brief History
of Crystal Beach,

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Buffalo's "Coney Island"

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Crystal Beach Park seawall

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The view from the cottage on the hill

The Golden Pier



Thursday morning, September 17, 2009 ~ Scroll right to see the whole photo.

Photo copyrighted © by Angelo F. Coniglio 2009


     Crystal Beach, twenty minutes from Buffalo by bus, auto or boat, in the town of the same name on Lake Erie in Ontario, Canada, began as a health spa in the Nineteenth century, became part of the beloved Crystal Beach Amusement Park in the Twentieth, and succumbed to development as the Crystal Beach Tennis and Yacht Club in the Twenty-first.

     Regardless, the real allure of the place is one of the loveliest sand beaches in North America:  southward-facing to catch the sun from early morning through sunset; gently curving to the west to accept near-constant cooling breezes; and blessed with an endless variety of nature's creatures, from fish to fowl.

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Cicadas sing, high in the trees.

Waves whisper at the shore.

A soft and gentle southwest breeze

wafts the whisper of an oar

across the Lake.


Beneath the red and rising sun,

a heron spreads its wings to fly.

Two swallows swoop and swerve as one

against the brilliant azure sky

and leave a rainbow in their wake.


Here, once, the "Comet" clanked and roared.

"Canadiana" crowds debarked

to share the comforts of the shore

and seek the treasures of the Park,

arrayed like gems, in easy reach.


The throngs are gone. The Comet's still,

but not the ever constant breeze;

and cottages up on the Hill

remain to tend the memories

of summer, youth, and Crystal Beach.


                                           Ange Coniglio

                                           Professional Beachcomber



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Other writings

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Karl Josker's

Friends of
Crystal Beach

Crystal Beach

A Natural History
of Crystal Beach


We moved in to our cottage in the Fall of 1983, after winning the $200 first prize for a sand sculpture of King Tutankhamun.

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Click on the images above
to enlarge them.

Click on the Golden Pier image
for a short story by Sammy Tiranno


"The gang", July, 2004.   Click individual for identification.

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Our good neighbors at the beach.

The Potts family  

~ Summer 2005 ~

~ Summer 2012 ~

~ Summer 2015 ~


 The Tricolis ~ Jackie and Marty
~ Summer 2004 ~

Marty Tricoli
 Johnny Tricoli

Chucky (Tricoli), King of the Beach
~ Summer 2004 ~




Blase LaDuca
'The Mayor of Crystal Beach'
would walk the Beach and bring us news of the Potts', Tricoli's, etc.

 Marty Tricoli with
Jean Coniglio and
Ray Silvestro

~ 2006 ~

Jackie Provenzano Tricoli
'Where the ACTION is'
~ 2006 ~


The end of another day in Paradise ~ August 16, 2005

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A small part of the Coniglio Family Reunion ~ July 2006 ~


Why we don't like the "beach cleaner"
Looks like a cornfield, not a beach!
~ August, 2007 ~


A real beach


Even Winter is spectacular at the beach ~ after the ice storm, 31 January, 2008


The Golden Pier ~ 16 June, 2010


Angie Bongiovanni, Pat Poole, Carol Tomaselli, Janet Tomaselli and Rosie Fiorella ~ July 8, 2010


Last day of the season at the beach ~ October 15, 2010

That's me, walking almost to the block,
as the North wind sends the Lake to Buffalo.
Another photo of a sunset at the Beach:
'I got a million of 'em!!'

Family gathering ~ July 2011 Jackie and Shelly cooling their heels at the Beach ~ July 2011


Summer 2011

The Dick and Mina Potts family ~ 'First Family of Crystal Beach'

August 21, 2011

Bailey, Ange, Denise, and Samantha Our birthday present: the Golden Pier at the end of the rainbow.

September 6, 2011 ~ the day after Labor Day, and everyone is gone.  What a shame!


Coniglio Family Week at the Beach ~ 2013




15 and 16 February 2014.  See the article at http://bit.ly/CrystalBeachIceCaves and the video at http://bit.ly/IceCavesVideo


The area is just east of the Palmwood Restaurant



7 July 2014 we had a storm.

8 July 2014 we had a storm AND a (double) rainbow!!


Every day, every hour, every ten minutes, the Lake changes.


Ten minutes after midnight, Sunday morning 10 August, 2014
~ full moon over the pier ~



12 August 2014

3 September 2014 ~ the water sparkled at 4PM . . . .

. . . . and at 11 PM


Sunset 6 September 2014

Moonset 7 September 2014 

Noon 7 September 2014


The Buffalo News

June 4, 2016
Copyright 2016 The Buffalo News

100 Things Every WNYer Should Do: Go To Crystal Beach

By Mary Kunz Goldman

One of the lingering reminders of Crystal Beach's history, the pier where the Canadiana once docked. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the Laff in the Dark.

F. Scott Fitzgerald would not mind us co-opting the famous ending to “The Great Gatsby.” Having lived in Buffalo when he was a boy, he glimpsed the nostalgia that is part of the Western New York soul. He might even have gone to Crystal Beach himself.

Opened in 1888, Crystal Beach was part of everyone’s life. It closed in 1989 but it is still, in a way, part of everyone’s life. Crystal Beach suckers are sold around town. Loganberry, the park’s signature drink, was a previous adventure on our 100 Things list.


Visiting Crystal Beach, Ont., now takes courage.

Maybe the village elders saw too many eerie images of abandoned amusement parks, because they did an astonishing job of obliterating any sign of what used to be. That paradise where the Heyday rumbled, the Laughing Lady shrieked and the Magic Carpet air jets blew ladies’ skirts in the air – all of that is now the gated Crystal Beach Tennis and Yacht Club. It is 100 percent new-build sterile. The locals call it Vinyl Village.

You can go half crazy, staring at it.


Where was that garage where they fixed the antique cars? It used to be right on the road. Where did Jungle Land use to be? What about the yellow Giant Coaster? When the park closed it was rumored that the shaky 1916 masterpiece was burned to the ground. It’s too awful to think about.

And yet we can’t help it.

So thickly swirls the nostalgia that the Ridgeway Road Tim Hortons has two murals that pay homage to park history. In the front, you see the Canadiana at the pier. And in the back is the Backety-Back Scenic Railway, a roller coaster at Crystal Beach from 1909 to 1926.

“Everyone takes pictures of them,” the barista said.

Arriving at Crystal Beach, we found two pieces of the past.

One was the pier we’d just seen in the picture. A lot of it was chopped off four years ago, we heard, after a teenager died tragically after some horseplay. But still, it’s there.

The other is the Canadiana’s propeller. It’s at Crystal Beach Waterfront Park, next to a tombstone reading “S.S. Canadiana, 1910-2004.” You’re supposed to get misty, and I did. When I was an infant, my dad carried me onto the Canadiana. He wanted me to be able to say I’d been on it.

So we beat on, boats against the current. Even when it was around, Crystal Beach bore us ceaselessly into the past.

My dad bitterly lamented the loss of the Canadiana. He claimed that the Comet was nothing next to its harrowing predecessor, the Cyclone. His parents, in turn, probably missed the clickety-clack of the Backety-Back. Times change.

I have to remind myself that was ultimately the reason Crystal Beach closed. Amusement parks across the country folded in the 1980s and ’90s. At least we are not alone.

And at least Crystal Beach is, aside from Vinyl Village, a pretty place.


The old cottages are adorable. Painted bicycles adorned with flowers are a whimsical decoration. The old Palmwood Hotel, a link to the old days, has a big patio with a stunning view of Buffalo. It quaintly advertised Lake Erie Perch and Pickerel.

Then there’s the beach.

It’s free, and there’s no alcohol allowed, which keeps out the riffraff. (You can always toast the past afterward at Sneaker’s Beach Bar and Grill, another bit of history. I had to smile at its sign, reading: “Wine, wine, wine, wine, wine, $3.25.”

Fine sand and crystal clear water. That is how Crystal Beach originally got its name. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

The beach’s soft sands and clear waters gave Crystal Beach its name. But though I had admired it from the Comet and the Sky Ride, I never swam there while the park was open. Now, it was time. The lake was still chilly and no one else was swimming. Someone had to be first. I dove in. It was a shock at first – but then it felt good.

So it goes, at Crystal Beach. Follow in our sandy footsteps. Find a hot day and face your memories. Wade in.

The water’s fine.  (see Sharon Cantillon's photo gallery of Crystal Beach)

email: mkunz@buffnews.com


2016 ~ old chairs, new webbing



     When we closed up the cottage for the winter at the end of the 2019 season at the beach, little did we know that because of the coronavirus pandemic, we would not be able to return until August 9, 2021. And even then it was in only a restricted way, because of the complicated testing and border-crossing process.  We were able to spend a few late-season, disjointed days at the cottage, but not to 'move in' and enjoy our normal 'beach time'.

     Finally, in 2022 (!!) restrictions were eased somewhat, and we were able to make our accustomed 'summer transfer' to the Beach, in mid-May.

     Click on the photo to see a video of the Beach on a typical Spring day, May 14th, 2022, from sunrise to sunset. When the youtube video comes up, right-click on it and select 'Loop' to make it continuous.





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Gaetano & Rosina










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