- Editor’s Note: This article is part of a weekly series on Kane County’s amazing history. Today’s article was written by Tim Kirsininkas, marketing manager for the St. Charles History Museum. Images are courtesy of the St. Charles History Museum.
In the early days of Fox River valley settlements, factories and industry were common and lined the banks of the River from Elgin all the way down to Aurora. Each town had its own distinct product or factory that helped contribute to early commerce in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
An influx of new settlers and immigrants during this time frame warranted the addition of an easy form of transportation for workers between the Fox Valley communities and Chicago.
In the 1890s, the first lines of the Chicago, Aurora, and Elgin Railroad system were introduced to allow workers with an easy way to get from their homes to their jobs at the factories along the River and near Chicago.
Trolley cars on the route moved along tracks built that followed existing dirt roads between the communities. In St. Charles, the line branched off at Third Street to follow Main Street (Route 64) east toward Chicago. In order to make this turn, trolley cars had to slow down to carefully traverse the curve.
This presented local barkeeps with a unique opportunity to serve additional amounts of commuting patrons.
When the bartenders would hear the rumble of the interurban trolley approaching, they would pour out shots of whiskey to have ready for weary and cold commuters to enjoy as a pick-me-up on the way home from work who would hop off the trolley car, place some money on the counter, down the shot, and then continue on their way home.
Over the years leading up until Prohibition, the location of Main and Third streets in St. Charles became aptly known as “Whiskey Bend” and became an unofficial stop on the trolley line, leading to conductors on the cars shouting out “Next stop … Whiskey Bend!” to the delight of trolley commuters as they were allowed to hop off and grab a quick drink.
Whiskey Bend And Prohibition
During the Temperance Movement of the Prohibition Era, Whiskey Bend became a top target of local chapters pushing for the full banning of alcohol.
While Whiskey Bend faced further challenges with the ratification of the 18th Amendment, coupled with the advent of automobiles in the 1920s and the eventual closing of the Elgin-Aurora Railroad system in 1934, the tradition of stopping in St. Charles for a beverage after work seemed to return after the repealing of Prohibition.
St. Charles’ robust selection of bars and restaurants today could partially be contributed to these early settlers and workers who looked to quench their thirst with a quick drink following a long day of work at the factories. As the old saying goes, “it’s five o’clock somewhere!”
You can find out more about the history of Whiskey Bend by viewing the Museum’s new display permanently on display in the entrance of Pollyanna Brewing, 106 S. Riverside Ave. in St. Charles.
Party Like It’s 1933
We’re taking it back to the end of prohibition!
Join the Fox Valley Whiskey Society at the St. Charles History Museum on Saturday, Dec. 7, for a “Party Like It’s 1933” fundraiser.
You’ll learn about Prohibition and how it and whiskey helped shape the Fox Valley all while dining on food from local restaurants and sampling whiskey from Old Forester, Woodford Reserve, Old Overholt and Four Roses.
Bring some extra cash for your chance to win our 50/50 Raffle! All proceeds and ticket sales benefit the St. Charles History Museum.
Tickets available at here.
Read The Kane County History Series!
- 1850-1925 Geneva — When Penmanship Was Mightier Than The Sword
- St. Charles Museum Site — From Serving Gas To Preserving History
- Elgin Puts 3,500 Priceless Photos Online
- Batavia-Inspired Miniatures Thrilled a Nation
- Aurora’s Maud Powell, World Famous Violinist
- Waxing Nostalgic on Geneva’s WGSB, WFXW
- American Doughboys of WWI — in St. Charles, IL
- Experience High-Tech History at April 21 ‘Open Elgin’ Event
- Batavia, IL — ‘Windmill Capital of The World’
- Meet Andy Aurora, Man About Town
- Celebrating The 50th Anniversary of 9-1-1 in Geneva
- Blue Goose And Evergreen Pub — ‘Shop Local’ 90 Years In The Making
- Elgin Is The Apple of Illinois Bicentennial’s Eye
- Nordens Soner And Batavia’s Swedish Society
- Aurora’s Melting Pot ‘Yearning To Breathe Free’
- Candles, Timing Devices, Phonographs And The ‘Life Cup’ — All Things Made in Geneva
- Hotel Baker, The ‘Masterpiece’ of The Fox Valley
- Elgin Celebrates Our Once-Burgeoning Dairy Business
- Reflections of Batavia’s Quarry Beach Pool
- Aurora’s Mabel O’Donnell, Author of “Alice And Jerry’ Books
- As Alice (Davis) Says, ‘Schools Out For Summer!’
- Elgin Watches, ‘The World’s Standard’
- Aurora Silverplate a Symbol of Good Taste
- Women Leaders Played Huge Roles in Geneva
- Nationally Renowned Summer Camp in St. Charles
- The Harrowing Story of William Lynch, Elgin’s Civil War Brigadier General
- Batavia Powered The Aurora, Elgin & Chicago Railway
- Corsets Doing Big Business in Aurora? Scandalous!
- One Block of Geneva Tells 1,001 Fantastic Stories
- St. Charles’ Evergreen Pub — The ‘Before’ Photos
- 1917-18 — When Elgin Artists Went to War
- Thomas Cleveland — Batavia’s Presidential Connection
- Do Your Wurst — Aurora Meat Markets Are ‘In’ Again
- Geneva Is The Place For Graveyards And Ghosts
- Visit Amelia Anderson At St. Charles’ North Side Cemetery
- Calling All Artists! … For a Cobblestone Reflection in Elgin
- Batavia’s 108-Year-Old Gazebo Still Lights The Way
- The Compelling, Tragic Story of Aurora’s Black WWI Hero Frank Boger
- Geneva History Museum Invites Artists To Celebrate Cultural Heritage
- Elgin’s Anson Clark Soared in The Great War … And Life
- What It Meant To Be a Patrol Boy and Louise White School
- ‘Men’s Night’ Christmas Shopping Was a 1950’s Aurora Phenomenon
- St. Charles Remembers Colson’s Christmas-Day Fire of ’33
- The Art of Elgin’s Cobblestone Reflections
- When Suffrage Met Prohibition in Batavia
- Geneva Presents The Art of The Fox River
- Blansford Astronomical Clock Is Aurora’s Treasure
- St. Charles Returns Family Heirlooms From WWII
- Museum Lands Painting By Elgin Artist Albert Kenney
- Cars Still Fixed at Historic Location in Downtown Batavia
- A Bird’s-Eye View of 19th Century Geneva
- Sheldon Peck: Kane County’s Connection To The Underground Railroad
- Elgin High School Celebrates 150 Years of ‘Education For All’
- Batavia’s Incredible Roller Skating History
- The Fabled History of Jewelry Stores in Geneva
- Astonishing Buried Treasure Discovered in Aurora Outhouse
- Lincoln Elementary School in St. Charles Celebrates 90 Years of Education
- Remembering Elgin High Grad, Renowned Composer Daniel Brewbaker, 1951 – 2017
- Meet Batavia’s Sharron Moran, LPGA Star, ‘Most Beautiful Golfer’ of 1966
- The Many Iterations of Geneva’s National Food Store
- The Burlington Zephyr — A ‘Silver Streak’ Through Aurora
- What IS That Thing in Downtown St. Charles?
- 18 Events, Limited-Edition Poster For Preservation Month in Elgin!
- Julius Amandus Anderson’s WWI Memorial Trapunto Banner
- Geneva’s Swedish Days Celebrates Its 70th Anniversary
- The Historic Drive To Save Aurora’s GAR Hall
- The Story of St. Charles’ Paddlewheel Riverboats
- Meet Elgin’s Legendary Marshal — Andrew Barclay Spurling
- Jackie DeShannon ‘Put A Little Love’ In Batavia
- Aurora’s William S. Hart, Cowboy Movie Star
- St. Charles’ First Settlers, One Lost, Found Again
- Discover The Elgin Stories All Around You
- Batavia’s WWI French Connection
- Amazing Stories Behind Geneva’s Extraordinary Parks
- Roots Aurora Seeks 2019 Nominations For Aurora Cultural Champions
- Newly Renovated Thompson Middle School Retains Memories of St. Charles High
- Elgin’s Bluff City Cemetery Memorializes City’s Past
- Batavia Connection to 1969 Moon Landing
- Geneva Company Made Huge Contribution to Art Deco
- East Vs. West 1914 — Aurora’s Greatest Football Game
- North, Union Cemeteries Are St. Charles’ Hallowed Grounds
- Elgin Temperance Crusaders Take Hatchet To Beer Fans
- Ever Heard of Clybourneville? (Hint: It’s Now in Batavia)
- Geneva Ghost Stories Rise From Former Hospital Site
- Aurora Tells The Cows To Shut Up
- Baby Face Nelson And 100 Years of St. Charles Boys School ‘Good, Bad And Ugly’
- Behold The Telegraph, Elgin’s First Digital Communication!
- Mary Bailey, Batavia’s Trailblazing Woman Lawyer
- Holiday Traditions, Historic Creche at Geneva History Museum