The Island Park section of town was mainly a farming area until trolleys began to cross Stone Bridge from Tiverton. The trolley company began to encourage recreation development to lure Fall River workers to come on their day off.
Barker’s Merry-go-round opened in 1898 and in 1902 Joseph Lunan’s Shooting Gallery opened as well. The area gradually added a wide variety of amusements such as glider swings, speak-easies, fortune tellers, tea rooms and food concessions. It was about this time that the area became known as Island Park. An older name was Ferry Neck.
The biggest development was by Thomas Cashman who opened an amusement park in 1925-26. It boasted the second largest roller coaster in New England. The Bullet Ride. Cashman's Park offered a Ballroom built over the beach, a boardwalk into the Sakonnet River and a beach with boat rentals. The park was devastated during the Hurricane of 1938.
The Portsmouth Historical Society has postcards of the hurricane destruction. Our exhibit. "On the Water," includes photos of Portsmouth families enjoying themselves at the Island Park beach. You are welcome to add your family photos to the display. The Historical Society is open Sundays from 2pm to 4pm - Memorial Day through Columbus Day.