Sandburg's Hometown

June 24, 2013

Diving Horses

Galesburg's Fourth

By Barbara Schock 

On April 27, 1900, the Republican-Register reported plans for celebrating the Fourth of July at the Galesburg Driving Park on Grand Avenue were being prepared. There would be a full card of running, pacing and trotting horses as well as bicycle races. In addition, there would be “guideless races” in which the horses ran without drivers or riders.

 On the Fourth, the day’s program started at 12:30 with a horse show including “all sorts of stallions, standard bred two-year-old horses, coachers, draft horses, thoroughbreds, saddle horses, road teams, single drivers and draft teams.”

 There was also an exhibition of horses and an elk diving from a platform into a pool of water. A platform forty feet high had been erected and a hole eleven feet deep had been dug and filled with water. The diving horses were named Powderface and Cupid. They walked up a ramp to the platform and jumped off at the word of their owner. As soon as they were out of the water, the horses nuzzled their trainer for some sugar which they knew was due them.

 Old Charley, the elk, wasn’t so eager to jump off the platform which caused much laughter in the audience. He eventually made the dive after a great deal of coaching.

 There track was formerly known as the Williams Track. On July 4th, 1900, it was formally rededicated as the speedway of the Galesburg Driving Association. The races were very good and fast and some of the finishes were close so the crowd enjoyed itself immensely. It was estimated two thousand people were in attendance.

The day was hot, but there was a cooling breeze at the racetrack. Lemonade and popcorn sellers had a good business.

 Of course, there was noise. It started early on the morning of the Fourth and didn’t end until the following morning. Pistols, firecrackers and miniature cannons kept up a constant racket.

 As usual, there were a number of accidents in the city resulting from the use of fireworks and gun powder. There were burns to faces and hands as well as pellets to be picked out of human flesh by a doctor. Several of the incidents were due to poorly manufactured fireworks, but others were due to careless handling of explosive materials.

 The C.B. & Q.  Railroad announced it had carried more than two thousand passengers to and from Galesburg on the Fourth. There were celebrations in neighboring towns as well. Individuals and families traveled to and from Galesburg to visit and enjoy the holiday. It was a good business day for the railroad.

 Carl Sandburg was off somewhere in Bureau County selling stereoscopic views.

Sandburg's Hometown
Date Title
July 1, 2013 Galesburg's Fourth
June 24, 2013 John H. Finley
June 17, 2013 The World's Columbian Exhibition
June 10, 2013 Fruit Short-Cake
June 3, 2013 Horatio Alger, Author
May 27, 2013 Memorial Day, 1887
May 20, 2013 Professor Jon W. Grubb
May 13, 2013 Beginnings of Lombard University
May 6, 2013 Young Sandburg’s View of Lombard College
April 29, 2013 Thinking
April 22, 2013 Robert Colville, Master Mechanic
April 15, 2013 The Galesburg Opera House
April 8, 2013 Grocery Stores and Sample Rooms
April 1, 2013  A Hearty  Breakfast 
March 25, 2013  The Lost Wallpaper Legend 
March 18, 2013 Martin G. Sandburg
March 4, 2013 The Edison Talking Machine
February 25, 2013 Joe Elser, Civil War Veteran
February 18, 2013 Remember the Maine...
February 11, 2013 Lincoln's Birthday
February 4, 2013 Curiosity
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