Thursday, October 10, 2019

White City (Amusement) Park, just North of Centralia, Illinois in Central City. (ca.1896-????)

White City Park was originally called Columbia Park. The date for the change of names is lost in history.
White City Park, located near Crooked Creek in Central City, was the focal point for Centralians over 120 years ago. 
Crooked Creek, near Centralia, Ill.
The park contained such attractions as a swimming pool, a baseball stadium, a skating rink, dance hall, bandstand for vaudeville shows and concerts. Langenfeld's "Oregon Short Line" furnished transportation for Centralians to White City Park in the pre-auto era around the turn of the 20th century. The park was well known for its white picket fences and brightly painted signs.
Centralia  Evening Sentinel's Free Children's Excursion to the White City. July 10, 1907.
Thousands of people made the excursion to White City daily to take advantage of its recreation facilities. The swimming pool was the most popular attraction. It was made from concrete and holds 200,000 gallons of water. People flocked to White City to beat the summer heat and after a week, more than 50 women learned to swim. In 28 days, 10,000 patrons paid to swim in the pool.
White City Park Swimming Pool.
Management created special days for swimmers. A water polo team was formed and matches were well attended. A greased pole with a ham on top was another attraction that kept swimmers busy on hot days. A promise of a season's swimming pass was offered to anyone who could sit on a 300-pound block of ice floating in the pool. On woman teeth chattering, managed eight minutes and the management magnanimously gave her the pass anyway.
White City Park Entrance.
As baseball became a major Sunday entertainment, White City took over. A modern grandstand was built and top teams were drawn to Centralia to meet the powerful, local, minor-league, White Sox team.
White City Ball Park.
Centralians also watched a mock stagecoach robbery at White City when hard-riding "robbers," complete with masks and guns, stopped a stagecoach and relieved the driver of his money box.

World War I was the beginning of the end for the White City Park as the automobile eliminated the "Oregon Short Line" and opened new doors of entertainment for residents. 
The Oregon Short Line at the White City Trolley Station.
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

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