Thursday, October 10, 2019

Columbia Park, Central City, (1896-1905); White City (Amusement) Park, Central City. (1906-1926)

White City Park was originally called Columbia Park.

Columbia Park
Columbia Park in Central City, Illinois, operated from 1906 to 1926. It was owned by the Central City Traction Company, which was chartered in 1906 for 99 years. The park had a dance hall, a roller coaster, a swimming pool, and other attractions. It was a popular destination for people from Centralia and the surrounding area. The park closed in 1926 due to financial difficulties. The land was eventually sold and developed into a housing subdivision. 

White City Park
White City Park was located near Crooked Creek in Central City. It was the focal point for Centralians.
Crooked Creek, near Centralia, Ill.
The park contained such attractions as a swimming pool, a baseball stadium, a skating rink, a dance hall, bandstand for vaudeville shows and concerts. 

Central City Traction Company 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 a woman's chattering teeth, 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.
The 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 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 Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D. 


  1. My grandparents lived on North Marion and went to the park frequently and talked about it and its attractions.

    1. Do you think that the bridge over Crooked Creek at the end of N. Morrison was a/the bridge into the park?


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