Category Archives: Sports and recreation

Mildred Park bridge collapse, 1905 (photos)

Somehow, no one was seriously injured when a crowded suspension bridge collapsed into the pond at Mildred Park (today’s Bunn Park) on Aug. 16, 1905. The lead on the Illinois State Journal story: Without the slightest warning, the suspension bridge … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Disasters, Social life, Sports and recreation, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Moonlight Garden

Moonlight Garden flourished as an open-air dance pavilion and then an indoor roller rink on Wabash Avenue for more than 35 years. Entrepreneur/showman Roy Dexheimer Sr. founded Moonlight Garden as the otherwise nameless “Open Air Dance Pavilion” in June 1927. … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Business, Crime and vice, Social life, Sports and recreation | 6 Comments

Walkathon Derby, 1934

When Springfield’s Walkathon Derby shut down on May 18, 1934, it left a mountain of unpaid bills and eight groggy couples. The competition, held in a large tent at Second and Mason streets, started May 5 with several dozen pairs … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Spectacles, Sports and recreation, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The ‘Tournament of the Big Snow’, 1931

“(W)hen coaches, players or spectators recall 1931 to their grandchildren, they’ll call it the Tournament of the Big Snow,” Illinois State Journal sports editor Bob Drysdale wrote of the 1931 boys district basketball championships. A blizzard – 14 inches of … Continue reading

Posted in Disasters, Schools and school districts, Sports and recreation, Uncategorized, Weather | Leave a comment

Carl Vandagrift, baseball player/manager

Carl Vandagrift, the only Cantrall native to play major-league baseball, played for or managed at least 10 minor-league teams before he died at age 37. Vandagrift’s big-league career amounted to only 43 games in the short-lived Federal League, which challenged … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Sports and recreation | Leave a comment

First hunting license (1903)

The first hunting license ever issued in Sangamon County went to the father of Illinois’ hunting license law, railroad executive Horace S. Rearden. Illinois had regulated hunting since 1853, when the state made it unlawful “for any person to kill … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Animals, Prominent figures, Sports and recreation | 1 Comment

Iron Spring, Washington Park

The Iron Spring in Washington Park originally poured forth from a sandstone cave at the foot of a steep clay bluff. Cattle drank its water. But when Washington Park opened in 1901, the spring was one of its earliest attractions. … Continue reading

Posted in Historic Sites, Local government, Markers, Parks, Social life, Sports and recreation | Leave a comment

Fishman Sporting Goods

Fishman Sporting Goods was an institution for 99 years in downtown Springfield. Founder Louis Fishman emigrated to Springfield in 1887, fleeing anti-Jewish pogroms in his native Russia. He went into business on the smallest of scales, as the Illinois State … Continue reading

Posted in Business, Sports and recreation | 1 Comment

Camp Sangamo

When the Boy Scouts opened their first Camp Sangamo in 1920, the amenities included a Victrola, a croquet set and two rowboats. But no telephone. As the Scout organization explained in the Illinois State Journal prior to opening: There will … Continue reading

Posted in Children, Parks, Sports and recreation | 2 Comments

Harry Eielson’s miracle touchdown, 1918

Harry Eielson was a dominant athlete in high school and college. The Springfield High School basketball team, with Eielson as captain, won the 1917 state championship. Eielson took first place in pole vault at the 1915-16 state track meet, setting … Continue reading

Posted in Local government, Politics, Prominent figures, Sports and recreation | 3 Comments