Monday, December 30, 2019

Custer Bowery Amusement Park, Kankakee, Illinois. (1890s-1920s)

This was an amusement park, built by the Wabash Railroad to encourage weekend riders. It was located just east of the railroad and just west of the Kankakee River. Ten-car excursion trains bearing Chicago fun-seekers, mainly from German neighborhoods, would arrive early in the morning and return to Chicago very late in the evening.

There were picnic groves, concession stands, a merry-go-round, sideshows, games of chance, and a dance floor. A German Oom-pah band could be heard every weekend in summer.

Another attraction for the excursionists was a little riverboat operated by Nick White, an enterprising railroad conductor. For 25¢, riders were given a two and one-half mile cruise upstream from the docks just outside the park.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

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