Local History and Genealogy Blog

West End Park: Champaign's Amusement Park

In the summer of 1893, Champaign residents had a pleasurable diversion in the form of West End Park, now known as Eisner Park situated between Church Street and University Avenue. Located on the edge of town, the 6 acres of privately owned land opened to the public on June 17, 1893. Featuring a pavilion commanding fine views of the fairground, a ‘casino’ for dancing and concerts, a baseball field, tennis courts, swings for the younger set, shooting galleries, and a refreshment tent the main attraction was the ‘Great Switchback Railroad,’ a forerunner of the rollercoaster, that boasted traveling one-fourth of a mile in 15 seconds. [1]

Architects Drawing of West End Park Amusement Center

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Champaign County Genealogical Society Meeting - Tonight! (January 13)

The next general membership meeting of the Champaign County Genealogical Society is tonight, Tuesday, January 13.  The meeting starts at 7:00 pm in the Archives of The Urbana Free Library (2nd floor).  The meeting starts with CCGS business followed by a presentation. The January presentation topic is Photoshop which will cover digitally editing photos.  The meeting is free and open to the public. For more information on the Society, including its newsletter, research data and service, please visit: http://ilccgs.org/


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The William Rock House

William Rock arrived in Champaign County in 1835. His was the second family to arrive in the Sadorus area, settling 2 to 3 miles south of the original Henry Sadorus homestead on the east side of the Kaskaskia River. William and his family started out with 80 acres of land purchased from the federal government for $100 and a single room pole dwelling. [1]

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Candlestick Lane

Santa Claus and friends waving to passers-by on Candlestick Lane.

Whether you date the origin of Candlestick Lane from 1960 and the 10 families that gathered together on the 700 block of Fairlawn Drive to display oversized Yule cards or the neighbors on Grant Place who competed in an Illinois Power contest for the best holiday lights in 1964 it is evident that this corner of Urbana is flush with a holiday spirit that spans generations.

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Champaign County Winter Wonderland

Stop by the Champaign County Historical Archives (on the second floor of The UFL) and view our new exhibit, “Champaign County Winter Wonderland.” We have winter themed photographs and newspaper advertisements from 1890-1980, World War I correspondence from Army nurse Nettie Irle Mills describing Christmas in a French Red Cross facility, and other artifacts from our Local History and Genealogy collections.  

Kids building snow fort.

Kids building snow fort, 1985. 


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Weather got you sticking close to home and hearth these days?

Fear not we have the perfect balm for your cloistered soul – peanut butter fudge.

Today is Peanut Butter Fudge day! To help you with your preparations here are some local recipes from our community cookbook collection.  

First up is Ruth Sharpton’s recipe in Bone Appetit! Favorite Recipes compiled by the Champaign County Humane Society. These recipes are guaranteed to be doggone easy & purrfectly delicious.

recipe for Peanut Butter Fudge using marshmallow creme

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Winter is Coming

Champaign County residents at the turn of the twentieth century knew how to travel
through the Midwest snow and ice in style. Pictured here is a horse-drawn sleigh
outside of the William Redhed residence in Tolono, circa 1890. 

Source: "William Redhed House, Tolono, and unidentified women in a horse-drawn

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