Friday, February 10, 2017

The History of the Lincoln Park Gun Club of Chicago, Illinois.

In 1912 Oscar F. Mayer, W. C. Peacock, P. K. Wrigley and other prominent Chicagoans built a remarkable shooting facility called the Lincoln Park Traps (LPT) on Chicago’s lakefront, where they had begun to play a new, unnamed sport. The club was located near Diversey Harbor at 2901 N. Lake Shore Drive.

By 1918, it was common to hear the pop, pop, pop of gun fire on the lakefront, the sound of which was muffled by the big lake that absorbed and deadened the explosive sound of firing.

The Chicagoans were enjoying a sport started by Charles E. Davies, an avid grouse hunter, who invented a shooting game in 1915 using live pigeons. In 1926, a contest was held to name the sport. Gertrude Hurlbutt won the contest with the name “Skeet,” which is derived from the Scandinavian word for shoot.
Lincoln Park Gun Club, Chicago, Illinois. 1929
There were two kinds of shooting at the club: trap and skeet. In trap, the target is thrown straight out over the water, so you are shooting as it moves away from you. With skeet shooting, the target goes from side to side, so you have to pan. In both cases, the target is a clay pigeon.

The Park District took over the property in 1934 and the club was open to the public.
The Lincoln Park Gun Club, Chicago, Illinois. 1948
The lakefront was dredged in 1947 to remove and gather the accumulated lead, with disputes taking place over who would benefit from the $150,000 for the sale of the recovered scrap metal. Five hundred tons of lead was recovered. Lead was then selling for $300 a ton.

By the 1940s, Skeet was used by the U.S. military to teach novice gunners the principle of leading and timing flying targets.

In February 1991, then Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris sued the club for allegedly polluting the lake with lead shot. The Chicago Park District immediately shut down the club until it could prove its activities were safe and also insisted it pay to have the lakefront dredged. Members charged that the shutdown was not due to pollution, but because of guns.

The gun club filed suit against the park district; however their suit was dismissed. The following summer, most of the club's buildings were demolished by the park district.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 


  1. Unless you've actually shot skeet or trap you don't know how much fun it is. You're not killing anything but you are improving one's hand eye coordination.

  2. I remember seeing the gun club after I moved back to the city upon finishing graduate school in 1989.


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