Destination PA: Presque Isle State Park


(WBRE) — It’s by far the most popular attraction in Erie and has been for generations.

In 2021, Presque Isle is celebrating 100 years as a state park.

But two local authors discovered that getting here was not an easy journey.

That is the focus of tonight’s PI One Hundred.

The winds and waves shape and reshape Presque Isle accomplices in a process that’s gone on for thousands of years.

More recently, man has jumped in, sometimes with plans that would have changed everything.

“The most dramatic of which was when we were about to give it away so they could put up a steel mill. Can you imagine? We came this close to letting that happen,” said David Frew, Co-Author of Accidental Paradise.

That’s just one story in a new book by David Frew and Jerry Skrypzak. “Accidental Paradise” looks at Presque Isle’s evolution over 13,000 years. At one point that included debate over whether it should be allowed to wash away.

“How many times they made efforts to restore the branches, to add break walls. I mean it was an island for over 50 years and you look at all that and you wonder. It’s amazing it’s still here,” said Jerry Skrypzak, Co-Author of Accidental Paradise.

The transition to a playground attraction four million people a year turned the Peninsula into a huge part of the regions economy, but that actually began well before it’s fate as a park had been decided.

“We owe Erie to Presque Isle, don’t we? We do absolutely. No Presque Isle, no Erie. No Harbor, no Erie. No Presque Isle, no Erie,” said Frew.

Owing that kind of debt, Frew and Skrypzak hope “Accidental Paradise” creates respect for the part of Presque Isle’s story that has not yet been written.

“I hope it brings people’s attention. Looking at the history, looking at the past to see it’s possible the whole thing could disappear,” said Skrypzak.

As for the title “Accidental Paradise” Frew credit his wife Mary Ann.

For more information as to how to buy a copy, click here.

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