Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Lunchtime Theater - A Journey Through the Geologic History of Illinois in 14 Chapters.


A Journey Through the Geologic History of Illinois in 14 Chapters.
Learn the history of Illinois as it changes from ancient tropical seas to towering swamps to a frozen Ice Age landscape.

Chapter 1 - The Ocean of Illinois

Chapter 2 - Early Ocean Life

Chapter 3 - Plate Tectonics

Chapter 4 - Geologic Materials

Chapter 5 - The Great Delta

Chapter 6 - Where Does Coal Come From

Chapter 7 - Geologic Layers of Illinois

Chapter 8 - Were Dinosaurs in Illinois

Chapter 9 - Ancient Rivers and Glaciers

Chapter 10 - The Illinois Glacier

Chapter 11 - The Wisconsin Glacier

Chapter 12 - Artifacts from the Illinois Ice Age

Chapter 13 - Impacts of Glacial Landforms

Chapter 14 - Warmer Climate Prairie Modern Illinois

Eldorado Illinois' Founding History.

The surveyor was Martin D. Gillett, and the plat was made on May 24, 1858 (It is in Section 21, Township 8, Range 7, East of the third principal meridian). Elderedo, which now is spelled Eldorado, was named for its founders - Judge Samuel Elder, his son, William Elder, his grandson, Francis Marion Elder, and a neighbor, William Reed. 
The Interurban Train of Southern Illinois Railway and
Power Company Heading out from Eldorado to Carrier Mills
The post office was established on December 8, 1858, and Nathaniel Bramlet was the first postmaster. Early Elderedo had only three streets laid out. State Road became State Street, Walnut Street, and West Street. The business houses were on State and Walnut Streets. The first businesses in Eldorado were started just before and in the Civil War period. Hiram Brown had the first dry-goods store on State Street. Tom Vaughn later built a general store, as did Cox and Elder, all on State Street. 

John H. Scott, a farmer, opened a general store in Eldorado after his return from war service. Scott also, with four others, organized a company and drilled the first oil well in the county. From 1896 to 1906, John H. Scott engaged in the business of selling buggies and light vehicles. 

The first general stores in Eldorado were owned by Nathaniel Bramlett and N. Webber. Each of these stores was started before the Civil War. In 1872, Choisser Bros. operated a livery stable and also ran a hack daily to Benton and return. Womack Bros sold boots and shoes, hats, caps, family groceries, and a general line usually sold in such stores. The Eldorado Grange established a store in 1879, where they sold dry goods, notions, hats, caps, boots and shoes, trace lines, hardware, check lines, and farm implements.

In 1865, Doctor John F. Latham entered into a partnership with his brother, S. C. Latham, in the drug business under the firm name of Latham Bros. and advertised, "we will respectfully inform the citizens of Eldorado and vicinity that we will constantly keep on hand a full stock of articles in the line of business which we will sell as cheap as any other druggist in southern Illinois." Cummins & Vaughn opened a "family" grocery store there in 1872.

Major William Elder built the first hotel. It furnished lodging for those who were employed building the railroads through the village. 

The original village was incorporated in 1870 with the following board of trustees: William Elder, president; James S. Neal, W. C. Wiedemann, J. N. Elder, and G. L. Eubanks, members. 

A. Ledvina was a carpenter, joiner, undertaker, manufacturer and dealer of furniture. In 1887, Eldorado boasted two drug stores, four dry goods stores, five groceries, one clothing store, one hardware store, one stove and tin-ware shop, one harness shop, one jeweler, one foundry and machine shop, two sawmills, two millinery stores, two livery stables, three hotels, one lumber yard, and one spoke factory.

The most extensive business interests in Eldorado were those of the Burnetts. C. P. Burnett began a mercantile firm in 1871 with his brother-in-law under the name of Burnett & Musgrave. This firm continued until 1885 when Burnett opened his own general store. In 1889, he organized the firm of C. P. Burnett & Sons, taking with him his sons, C. H., L. E., R. E., and C. P. In 1903, after the death of the elder Burnett, the business was incorporated and continued by the sons. The general merchandise store was divided into separate stores selling clothing, hardware, and groceries. It was in this business that the elder Burnett started the first bank; It was started by Burnett accepting sums of money from his customers merely for safe keeping for which he paid no interest. Out of this practice evolved a private bank which later was granted a charter as a state bank. Burnett owned large holdings in land and was interested in many other enterprises in and around Eldorado.

This settlement, by 1896, could boast of exceptional railroad facilities - The Illinois Central, The Louisville and Nashville, and The Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnati and St. Louis. Like several other villages, when the railroad company placed the name on the station, the name was spelled Eldorado instead of 'Elderedo', and it has been known by that name since that time. East Eldorado begins at First Street and was added after the original village was platted. 

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

Playland Amusement Park at 79th Street and La Grange Road, Willow Springs, (now Justice) Illinois. (1950-1979)

When Playland Amusement Park opened in the mid-summer of 1950, it was in Willow Springs, Illinois, which was unincorporated then. The area is now Justice, Illinois. The park was located where the Sterling Estates Mobile Home Park is currently. Only a maintenance building remains today which continues to be a maintenance and storage building for Sterling Estates.
The park was a kiddie park operated primarily by the Rocco family. There was free admission to the grounds but you paid-per-ride.
The Rocco's are perhaps best known for being the developers and manufacturers of the Flying Scooters ride. Playland Amusement Park was a small showcase for Bisch-Rocco's kiddie and adult rides.
There were also several ride concessionaires in later years, some who moved to Playland Amusement Park when Riverview Park closed, including one person affiliated with the Adventureland in Bloomingdale, Illinois (advertised as Addison, Illinois).

The park itself was somewhat boomerang-shaped and looked more like a fair than an amusement park, with dirt and gravel walkways and no landscaping. The front and original section had mostly kiddie rides.
There was a great set of Lusse bumper cars and the chilling Pretzel Dark Ride. Also, this is where the last Bisch-Rocco Flying Saucer ride ran (a tilted, rotating platform with two additional platforms that rotated in the same direction, thus providing a whip sensation - see video below). A streamlined diesel train ran through a 300-foot tunnel.

Overall there were 30-40 rides during the parks life, including the Live Ponies, Kyle Express Train, Big Rocko, Octopus, Roller Coaster, Tea Cups, Carousel, Helicopters, Electric Street Cars, Lady Bugs, Little Rocko, Zig Zag, Ferris Wheel, Rollo Plane, Tilt-A-Whirl, Bumper Cars, Boat Ride, Jet Plane Ride, Swingin' Gym, Hand Cars, Sky Fighter Ride, Roto Whip, Cyclone, Mad Mouse, Zipper, Toboggan and the only Electric Bus Ride in the U.S.

The park closed quietly in 1979 with pressure from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) expanding roadways. Sterling Estates' desire to buy the property and the competition from Chicago's newest parks, Marriott's Great America and Old Chicago Amusement Park, made the decision easy.


Playland Park 1969
Rare footage of Bisch-Rocco 'Flying Saucer' ride.

Ride example. Not from Playland.


Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D. 
Contributer: Roller Coaster Database