Category Archives: Amusements

Great National Horse Show and Equestrian Fair, 1865

The 11th annual Great National Horse Show and Equestrian Fair, held on the outskirts of Springfield in August 1865, was neither national nor, apparently, all that great. But it did draw Harper’s Weekly, the era’s most popular magazine, to central … Continue reading

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Dan Patch sets state fair race record (1906)

An estimated 40,000 people watched Dan Patch, the world’s most famous harness horse, set a new Illinois State Fair pacing record on Oct. 2, 1906. Dan Patch covered the one-mile fairgrounds track in 1:59¼, the first time a harness horse … Continue reading

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Haskell Viaduct (Illinois State Fairgrounds)

The Haskell Viaduct was a pedestrian bridge that connected the Exposition Building to the Poultry Building at the Illinois State Fairgrounds from 1897 until, probably, the mid-1920s. The Poultry Building (today’s Artisans Building) also was completed in 1897, but in … Continue reading

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‘Toy-pistol tetanus’

Dozens of young Sangamon County residents were injured, and a few killed, by toy pistols during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The pistols were a regular feature of the Fourth of July, which is when the vast majority … Continue reading

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Courthouse square locomotive

Two thousand people filled Adams Street in 1915 to watch a steam locomotive puff its way from Third Street to the courthouse square. The engine – the Chicago & Alton Railroad’s No. 533 – was set up on the south … Continue reading

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Second Christmas parade (1929)

Correction: This entry has been retitled. The first Christmas parade (smaller and less formal) in Springfield was held in 1914. You can read about it here. Embarrasssed apologies from SangamonLink’s editor, who wrote both entries, for forgetting the first one. And … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Celebrations, Children, Department stores, Depression, Spectacles | 1 Comment

‘Napkin social,’ First Methodist Church (1895)

The napkin above, printed in 1895, is a rare relic of a fundraising technique that was popular among women’s church groups in the late 19th century – “napkin socials.” The idea was that members of a group – in this … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Churches, Women | 1 Comment

The Sternaman brothers (football pioneers)

This article has been updated with more information about Joey Sternaman and with author William Barry Furlong’s account of how Dutch Sternaman bowed out as co-owner of the Chicago Bears. Two brothers from Springfield played important roles in the history … Continue reading

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Brainerd Hill (West Lawrence Avenue)

Brainerd Hill, now Springfield’s favorite sledding spot, once was the ultimate challenge for the city’s competitive bicycle community. Springfield “wheelmen” organized the Capital City Cycling Club in the fall of 1887 to sponsor a variety of bicycling events, foster competition … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Parks, Prominent figures, Social life, Sports and recreation, Transportation, Women | 3 Comments

The Mill, tavern and restaurant

The Mill, 906 N. 15th St., was one of Springfield’s most popular dining spots for nearly 40 years. Brothers Herman (1897-1980) and Louis Cohen (1893-1962) opened the tavern and restaurant in May 1933 on the same corner where they had … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Fires, Hotels & taverns, Restaurants, Social life, Uncategorized | 4 Comments