The Chicago and Joliet Electric Railway Co. 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 north of Joliet in Lockport, the park included a man-made lagoon, a waterfall, a boathouse, a dance hall that could accommodate 700 couples, a baseball diamond with a grandstand and bleacher seating for nearly 2,000 people, a merry-go-round, open-air theater, restaurant, a scenic railway ride and other attractions that made the park a popular spot for thousands of annual visitors and society clubs from all over the area.
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 ice skating on the frozen lake.
The Chicago and Joliet Electric Railway Co. 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 two dams at Dellwood Park were designed and constructed by the Ambursen Hydraulic Construction Co. of Boston. The two bridges in the park were designed by the American Railways Co.’s engineers and contractors, but were built by the Ambursen Co.
The Now photograph shows a view of the Dellwood Park boathouse, boating course and dam. The arched entryways shown near the base of the waterfall allowed visitors to traverse the length of the dam under the lake.
The decorative globe lights on the landing in the center allowed visitors to see their way at night as they descended the stairway to the bottom of the dam.
The boathouse, shown on the left, burned down in the late 1930s.
To the left and out of view in this photograph is the arched railroad bridge that was part of the interurban railway and local street car tracks, which brought visitors to the park each day. Seen in the far distance is the arch concrete bridge that many visitors walked over as they strolled through the park.
The Now photograph shows a view across the old concrete dam and waterfall looking south from the lower landing.