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Local News

Then & Now: Dellwood Park - Lockport

The Chicago & Joliet Electric Railway Company began to build Dellwood Park in 1905, to increase the number of railway riders.

For more than 30 years, Dellwood Park was one of the finest amusement, recreational and picnic areas in the region.  

Located about 4 miles north of Joliet in Lockport, the nearly 70 acres of forest and lawn included a man-made lagoon, dams for the lakes, a waterfall, a boathouse, a grandstand for races, a baseball diamond with a grandstand and bleacher seating for nearly 2,000 people, a merry-go-round, open-air theater, restaurant and other attractions that made the park a popular spot for thousands of annual visitors and society clubs from all over the area. 

The principal attractions at the park included the scenic railway, dancing pavilion with seating for 4,000, electric theater, laughing gallery, boats and the military band. The buildings at that park were commodious and were constructed uniformly of steel and concrete and resembled the Mission Revival style of architecture. 

As many as 10,000 people came to Dellwood Park on summer weekends, day and evening, to enjoy the popular activities such as boating and dancing. Walks along the paths led to other amusements, over bridges and along limestone bluffs. During the winter months, visitors would enjoy seasonal ice skating on the frozen lake.  

The Chicago & Joliet Electric Railway Company did not charge admission to the grounds, nor was there a fee for picnic parties, lunch sheds, tables or swings at the park. Free bench seats were provided around the bandstand and other places in the park.  

The electric illumination for Dellwood Park was given careful and lavish attention, as lights would illuminate the park and walkways in the evening, and the great light tower could be seen for many miles.  

The two dams at Dellwood Park were designed and constructed by the Ambursen Hydraulic Construction Company of Boston. The two bridges in the park were designed by the American Railways Company’s engineers and contractors, but were built by the Ambursen Company.  

The two bridges have one- and three-arch spans, respectively, and were designed to harmonize with their natural surroundings. The original plans contemplated three bridges in the park but the peculiar features of the Ambursen dam construction enabled the third bridge to be omitted. 

The then photograph shows a view of the concrete bridge (Middle Bridge) at Dellwood Park looking over the lagoon. Notice the decorative globe lights on the landing, which allowed visitors to see their way as they strolled across the ravine at night. A section of the scenic railway can be seen through the arches in the bridge.

The now photograph shows a view of the old concrete bridge today.  

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