Monday, December 12, 2016

Fort Sheridan Amusement Park in Highwood, Illinois (1898-1908)

Fort Sheridan is a residential neighborhood spread among Lake Forest, Highwood, and Highland Park in Lake County, Illinois. It was originally established as Fort Sheridan, a United States Army Post named after Civil War Cavalry General Philip Sheridan, to honor his service to Chicago.
On July 30, 1898, Fort Sheridan Park had its grand opening! The amusement center was created at the corner of Clay Street and Sheridan Road in Highwood, Illinois. 
The park's rustic beauty and entertainment attracted large crowds who began arriving in droves in Highwood aboard Dinkies (trolley cars) on the "Chicago and Milwaukee Electric Railway Company," North Shore Line (AKA: Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee Railroad).
Fort Sheridan Park - Chicago Tribune Ad, August 6, 1899
The amusement park attracted hundreds of people for band concerts, vaudeville shows, dancing in an open-air pavilion, beer gardens, and food concessions. It is unknown if there were any mechanical rides.
Fort Sheridan Park - Chicago Tribune, August 4, 1900.
Fort Sheridan Park, Inter Ocean, July 1, 1900
Fort Sheridan Park was destroyed by fire in September of 1908.

Belvidere Daily Republican, May 6, 1909, Tabernacle and Keeley Cure.
A resident of Highwood for two weeks, staying at the notorious Park Hotel, Pat Crowe is claimed to be boosting a scheme for the erection of an immense tabernacle at the Fort Sheridan Park that will seat an audience of 5,000 with a vigorous temperance campaign there and the changing of the Park Hotel into a branch of the Keeley Cure.

Crowe is getting well known in Highwood and while he has talked to many has neither denied nor affirmed the rumors about his plans. He has made no breaks nor backsliding and has quietly gone about his business which is the promotion branch of the Keeley Cure.

Fort Sheridan Park posted an ad on July 1, 1909 for lease

Fully equipped and ready for operation, seating capacity of 1,800; best location in the country adjoining Fort Sheridan; a big moneymaker; can be run year-round; excellent opportunity if taken at once, as present owner has other business requiring all his time. Inquire of H.D. BARRY, Highwood, Ill. Phone 386 Highwood.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.


  1. This Amusement park was first to be located in Ravinia. The Village of Fort Sheridan's President/Mayor Hogan was a dealmaker and real estate Speculator got it relocated to his town, now Highwood. The park was the 7 acre Smith property, probably a farm. They enlarged the Smith house into a boarding house for the workers and the bands. A chef from Exmoor C.C. prepared food for the public from house too. The train stop was probably Washington ave, the park had 400' frontage on Waukegan rd, now Sheridan rd. They also provide a large area outside the wooden fence to tie up horses and wagons. There was attendants to take care of the bikes for thoses cycling to the park. Going on Picnic was a popular activity at the time. The Park provided 1000 chairs along with benches, tables and hammocks. There were large washroom facilities. The Pavilion was 48'x120' with a hard maple wood dance floor. A separate band stand was on the northside. The Park served wine and beer, but promised to be Family oriented venue or they would close. The Park became a Public nuisance and was closed due to heavy drinking and fighting. The Park later burnt down. These facts are from local newspapers,Insurance co. Fire maps and State of Illinois investigations on Fort Sheridan soldier's heavy drinking and gambling in Highwood. At the Time there was an area efforts to force Highwood to become "Dry" and end Gambling.

    1. Ravinia Amusement Park wasn't open until 1904, 6 years after Fort Sheridan Amusement Park opened in 1898. So I can't be sure of the rest of your comments accuracy. Please provide your sources.


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