TRIPLE LAKE DUDE RANCH, Succasunna, New Jersey
A Dude Ranch with Horses in Succasunna? Believe it 'Pardner!
Research and text by M. Mark
For those City Folks who desired a country experience, Triple Lake Ranch opened around 1918 alongside the "Lakes" just north of Main Street of Succasunna near the Randolph border. Novels had romanticized the image of the 'Cowboy', and the new middle class wanted their fill of "ropin & ridin".
The several lakes in that area were old sand pits used by several industries, now unused, filled with water and with vegetation around the shore.
The Ranch location was behind today's 'Suburban Furniture', off Main Street in Succasunna. Small at first, it was enlarged in the 1950's when the Gaynor family became owners.
With the popularity of Movie "Westerns", this circa 1940 postcard featured "Instruction for the Dudes"
Circa 1940 postcard says: "Where chow is served"
Mailed in 1948, the back of this postcard said: "Having a swell time, wish we could stay longer"
An aerial view circa 1958 shows the horse stables, corral, main house and bungalow residences
A dozen guests and horse wranglers circa 1958, ready for a Trail Ride
It seems strange to young people today, but matchbooks for smokers were a very common way to advertise up until the 1970's. This one for Triple Lake is circa 1956, and calls out: "Hey There Tenderfoot, C'mon down to the Ranch and have fun in real western style". It promised Horseback Riding, Instruction, Swimming, Tennis, Excellent Food & Square Dancing. In these days before most had TV, organized socializing was very big.
In order to understand the clientele the ranch sought to reach, notice the phrase "NON-SECTARIAN" on the cover at left. Even through the 1950s, biogtry barred Jewish and occasionally Catholic families from some resorts, boating clubs and hotels in the Lake Hopatcong and Lake Mohawk - Sparta area. Their ads used coded words for exclusion like "exclusive", "Christian Clientele" or similar. In response some establishments sought out Jewish vacationers, and the phrase "NON-SECTARIAN" communicated that. As a result, Triple Lake became a gathering spot for them, coming from the nearby Jewish areas of the time: Dover, Newark, New York City and others. Many Jewish young people who were staff at Triple Lake, or met at the Ranch were eventually married. The building was even rented out for High Holy Day Services in the early 1960s by the new Temple Shalom before they built their own facility. Eli Gaynor relates: "Over the years our guests were 50/50, half Christian, half Jewish, everyone got along".
This small ad appeared in the New York Post in August 1947.
The "Long Holiday Weekend" was the Jewish holiday of
Rosh Hashanah-New Years. The ad featured "70 horses,
Free Riding Instruction, Boating, 'warm, friendly informal atmosphere, marvelous meals'. Anne Barash the manager was part of the Gottesman family, prominent in business.
Girl on horse at Triple Lakes Ranch, c. 1948
Ranch activities expanded in the 1950's, a sleigh was offered for the snow. It took people up and down Main Street Succasunna.
By the early 1960's Triple Lakes Ranch offered many activities, and had an arrangement with the Saltz Resort in
Mount Freedom to use their swimming pool, with the Saltz guests getting to ride the horses at the Ranch.
Many stories are told of couples meeting here, coming either as guests or staff, and getting married.
Gaynor Family Memorabilia Collection
When the Gaynor family, owners of Triple Lakes from the mid 50's thru the early
saw the original version of this page,
they not only had kind words, but Ron Gaynor also offered to scan & photograph their Ranch items for display here.
The Ranch Logo above is the first one, more below. Thanks to Ron Gaynor! We recently had a great phone conversation with
Ron & his Dad, Eli Gaynor, and are including many of their memories here.
- Eli Gaynor served his country during World War 2, seeing action in the Pacific. Like lots of guys, he entered civilian life in 1946,
and looked to get into a business. He purchased the Fawn Lodge on Lake Hopatcong, did upgrades and found success.
In 1948 he sold the Lodge, and newly married, he & Janice purchased Triple Lake Ranch, which was run as a small "Dude Ranch".
During the 1950s and 1960s they enlarged and modernized, added a restaurant & diversified the activities, as seen below.
A Western theme meant a shooting range with guns, REAL GUNS. Eli Gaynor relates: "We had .22 caliber rifles for the guests,
and we purchased regular bullets at a sporting goods store on Route 46. Cost us $1.00 a box for 50 bullets, and we sold it to the
guests at our cost". The shooting range hill backstop was on the other side of the toboggan hill, so activities had to be coordinated!"
The owners & hosts Eli & Janice Gaynor are seen above
The low building at the rear was one of the additions the Gaynors made, it housed a restaurant and dance floor.
With guest accommodations in the main house, the renovated annex and cottages around the lake, over 45 rooms were available.
Eli Gaynor relates: "At any one time we had about 50 horses for guests plus did boarding for locals.
We had a total of three buildings with stalls for horses, took guests on the trails & ran horse shows.
Janice Gaynor, co-owner of Triple Lake Ranch, in the early 1950's
Cigarette Lighters were popular souvenir items
Promotional items were 'musts' in the competitive world of resorts & ranches in the Northeast. The Gaynors had these wall mirrors made, and put them up in the restrooms of large Gas Stations on major highways. - As well, 'Gag' novelty items like the one at right were popular at the time.
Triple Ranch T-Shirts? We got 'em !!
Expanding the season to
'Year Round' was critical in drawing guests. The Toboggan Run at
left was one winter activity. Note the rough construction of the
'ride', something that was common in the 1960s, but would get a park shut
down today! Increasing regulations and insurance costs drove
hundreds of small attractions out of business over the years.
You'll need this card for your ride, pardner!
Current aerial photo of the area where the ranch was located. Route 10 in Succasunna NJ is along the bottom,
the Roxbury Mall is out of this image to the left, the commercial complex in lower right corner is in Randolph.
The lakes in this area are former sand pits that were dredged, now with trees. Above this is one active sand pit
currently used by County Concrete. Thanks to Ron Gaynor for this graphic!
The Gaynor family sold the
Ranch in 1968, but the group which purchased it was unable to run it. By 1971
main building of the ranch became Clyde's Restaurant, and the land behind renamed "Yesterday's Village".
It offered flea markets on the weekends. Clyde's was renamed "The Library", and with it's liquor license people
would just say: "I'm going to the Library", when they other things than reading in mind. In the late 1970's,
Clyde's/The Library burned down (arson suspected) and the land lay dormant until purchased by Morris County.
Today it's "Open Green Space", and the only hint of The Ranch is the pitted asphalt surface of the old tennis courts.
To contact the Proprietor of this site, email: Editor @ RoxburyNewJersey.com
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