Rockford's Forgotten Driving Park: Racing, Politics & Circuses

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Local thrill-seekers at the turn of the century knew that all the action was at the Driving Park. But few today know the drama buried beneath a West End subdivision. At the height of the horse racing craze after the Civil War, prominent Rockford businessmen raised $25,000 to build a harness racetrack there in 1890 (the name refers to the person in the cart pulled by a horse—the driver). The versatile venue evolved to stay relevant, weathering the 1893 financial panic and welcoming bicycle mania. Events ranged from high school track meets to early auto racing. Folks saw a soccer game one week and a circus the next. Controversy erupted at times, from gambling and drinking to a murder and a KKK rally. Amanda Becker reveals this colorful story nearly forgotten since 1938.
ISBN: 9781467141963
Format: Paperback
Publisher: The History Press
State: Illinois
Images: 34
Pages: 160
Dimensions: 6 (w) x 9 (h)
Amanda Becker was born and raised and continues to live in Rockford. She graduated from Rockford Auburn High School in 2000, earned her associate’s degree from Rock Valley College in 2002 and her bachelor’s degree in history from Rockford College (now university) in 2005. After she graduated from Rockford College, she returned to her alma mater, Auburn, to teach social science courses and continues to do so today. In addition to teaching at Auburn, she is involved in many community organizations, such as Midway Village, the Rockford Historical Society, Haunted Rockford tours and the Rock Valley College Center for Learning in Retirement (CLR) programing.