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Local History 

Doling Park 1906

 Doling Park postcard post marked 1908

An article that describes the many improvements to the park, how the fish hatchery works, the trials of finding the perfect theater troop to play the summer season and how the "irresponsible hoodlums" are being kept out. 

Springfield Republican
April 15, 1906, page 4

Doling Park Will Have Many New Attractions 

"Numerous novel features added to this beautiful breathing spot; Steam launch purchased; Buildings are remodeled and grounds beautified – Daily concerts to be given—to be run as family resort 

"Robert Doling, manger of Doling park, is making elaborate and extensive preparations for the entertainment of Springfield’s pleasure-seeking population during the coming summer.  Ever since its establishment this park has been a favorite resort for pleasure seekers who frequent it during the day to fish or rest or sail the lake and in the evening to be entertained. The work of improvement has been going on for several weeks and many new buildings in the way of booths for refreshments, shooting galleries, etc., have been erected. The rustic stands throughout the park for the accommodation of visitors who bring basket lunch with them have been rebuilt in such fashion as to make them much more convenient and commodious. A new ice house was constructed during the winter, together with better facilities for accommodating the great numbers that flock there in cold weather to skate on the lake. All the buildings of the park are now new and in fine shape while the grounds are being cleaned up and beautified so as to be in readiness for the formal spring opening of the resort which will occur about May 1. The manager is contemplating the purchase of a steam yacht which would be a splendid addition to the many attractive features already there and fill the hearts of the lake voyagers with a vast delight. However the boating facilities of former seasons have always been good and entirely adequate to the demands of the visitors.

"Where the Fish Abide

"There are two lakes in the park the smaller being used as a fish hatchery and the  larger for boating, swimming and angling. Every spring the smaller lake is drained in order that the young fish may be captured and put into the other. Once in two years the water is let out of the big lake so that it may be cleaned out thoroughly. At present the dams are being raised for the purpose of deepening the water. But the boating conveniences of this lake are not its only attractions. It is full of fish and every day through out the spring and summer devout Waltonians resort thither with their rods and lines. There are bass, carp, perch, catfish and croppie[sic]. The bass and croppie [sic] predominating. It is nothing unusual for anglers to take croppie that are fifteen to twenty inches in length while bass weighing form one to four pounds are often captured. It is a thrilling thing (for any man who has a heart in him) to stand upon the dam, cast the fly, see the swirl where the bass rises and feel the inspiring tug at the further end of twenty yards of silk. Whenever jack salmon [note: walleye] or turtles appear in the lake they are promptly 'fired'.

 Shoot the chutes at Doling Park"Amusements not lacking

"Arrangements are being perfected for daily evening concerts throughout the summer season. These concerts will begin about the first of May at the time the theater formally opens. The company that will play the theater this season has not yet been selected, the manager being anxious to get the very best. His purpose is to contract with the best company he can find, even though he is obliged to pay higher prices than heretofore. It is safe to say that this season’s attractions at the theater will be entirely new. The [illegible] of the Doling Park theater has [illegible] abroad over the land. R. C. [illegible] of St. Louis and W. J. Bryan of Nebraska and the world said of it when here that it was absolutely the finest theater building they ever saw in a park. Some years ago the park was infested by a gang of irresponsible hoodlums who got in every time there was anything doing and caused great annoyance to the visitors.

"The Toughs Shut Out

"The management set to work to devise some plan to rid the grounds of these nuisances and by a system of tickets and coupons succeeded in eliminating all the toughs greatly to the relief of the better class. Of recent years this highly disagreeable element has not been in evidence. A deputy sheriff is always on duty at the park during the open season and stays till the last show is over at night. Since the hoodlums were shut out, however, the chief duty of the officer is to stand by and look pleasant. Through the summer months crowds of pleasure seekers will throng the park keeping the car lines busy till far into the night. It is Springfield’s place for rest, relaxation and recuperation. When the blistering days and sultry nights come, it draws one as the magnet draws the needle. The spell of its enchanting allurements can no more be shaken off than the human can forget his in born love for hills, vales, forests and waters, ignore the bewitching charms of nature or fail to catch the siren cadence of the 'Call of the Wild'." 


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