Thursday, January 2, 2020

Riverside (Amusement) Park, aka Old Homer Park, Homer, Illinois. (1905-1928)

W. B. Mckinley bought the ground for Homer Park in 1904 and C. B. Burkhardt leased & started Homer Park in 1905 (for a short time the park was called "Riverside Park," finally being referred to as "Homer Park.").
The Illinois Traction System interurban line put the amusement park in on the banks of the Salt Fork River to encourage the use of the interurban line. The park recreation included pocket billiards, boxing, swimming, a bathhouse, bathing pool, steel boat rentals and fishing, toboggan slide, and a skating rink. A new pavilion with white maple floors and wide verandas were perfect for dancing along with the free use of their piano.
Today, it is referred to as the "Old Homer Park." The acreage today is just trees, bushes, etc., and still floods along the river after large amounts of rain. In the beginning, featured within the park was an old covered bridge that served as a bridge across the Salt Fork River, eventually, it collapsed. 
The "Old Homer Park" land was later purchased by Mr. & Mrs. William Edwards, local residents. The Edwards donated the site to the present Homer Forest Preserve, part of the Champaign County Forest Preserve.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale. Ph.D.
Special Thanks to the Homer Historical Society.


  1. I have a buddy (Bill Van Cleave of Urbana, IL) who is a member of a metal detecting club. They got permission to hunt this park a few years ago. Bill spent a long hot day hunting, and found nothing of value.

    As he was returning to his car, he left his detector on and dragged it behind him.

    It beeped.

    His first (and only) gold dollar.

  2. The stone fountain visible in the top photo of the last set of pictures is still there. If you park by the Homer Park sign (just off hwy 49) and walk into the woods a ways, you will come to it. It's very large and quite eerie, standing in a large depression (former pool?) in the ground. Across hwy 49 (if you're ok w dense vegetation and lots of burrs), you can find ruins of other buildings, including sets of concrete stairs. On hwy 49 itself, on the bridge portion, there are metal discs embedded into the road. Not sure what these are, but they look very old.


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