- Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series on Kane County’s amazing history. Today’s article was submitted by Elgin History Museum Curator of Collections Beth Nawara.
As the days and nights get colder, we begin thinking about cold weather activities. One winter activity that was very popular in Elgin, IL, was ice skating at the Lords Park lagoons. The lagoons were also referred to as ponds and lakes.
During the winter of 1919, there was an announcement in the Elgin Daily Courier newspaper on Dec. 5 that the lakes were “covered with ice strong enough to be safe.” They allowed up to 1,500 skaters on the ice.
On Dec. 24, 1919, it was announced that because ice skating at Lords Park was so popular “500 feet above the Kimball Street bridge will be cleared of snow, and otherwise made suitable for the skaters” on the Fox River. This area would be approximately 150,000 square feet of skating area. The Fox River would accommodate 2,000 to 3,000 additional skaters.
By Dec. 27, 1919 the Lords Park lower lagoon had been “flooded for skaters and is smooth as glass.” If people did not own ice skates, they could rent them at the Lords Park entrance.
Skaters would be on the ice from morning until night.
Announcements would be made in the local papers indicating when the ice at Lords Park was ready for skating. Usually, it was ready the first week of December. Smaller ponds would be ready earlier.
The Lords Park lagoons often opened later because of the large number of people that skated on them. The ice had to be 6 inches thick.
“We have to be sure the lagoon ice is thick enough to support a throng before we can announce it is available for skating,” the parks commissioner was quoted in the paper.
A horse drawn street car was used as a warming house.
City-Wide Ice Skating Carnival
The first Elgin City-Wide Ice Skating Carnival was in 1921. The second annual City-Wide Ice Skating Carnival was sponsored by the Elgin Daily News, the Elgin Skating Club and Elgin merchants. It was sanctioned by the Western Skating Association and held on Dec. 30, 1922.
The Western Skating Association was the “governing body over speed, figure and kindred skating sports of the Western States.” Part of the ice skating carnival included six ice skating champions from Chicago and an additional 50 athletes prominent in skating clubs from around the United States.
Ice skating became so popular that in 1937 a bridge was removed that led to the center island and the island area was cut down to provide a championship ice skating course that was used in January of 1938.
The 1970s were a rough decade for skating enthusiasts at Lords Park, when the lagoons stopped consistently freezing
In 1972, tiles were laid underground at the north end of the park. Those tiles diverted water into the lagoons with so much force the water would not freeze. Ice could not form thick enough for skating. The increase in water also caused eroding of the banks of the lagoons and caused light poles to tilt and fall into the water.
November of 1976 was the coldest on record which helped make ice skating possible in December of 1976. By 1995, the lagoons had not frozen solid for 10 years. During the 2000s and 2010s ice skating moved to the Civic Center area.
Prints of the Shirley Steffen painting of ice skaters at Lords Park is available at the Elgin History Museum and online https://elginhistory.org/product/lords-park-pavilion-with-ice-skaters/.
‘Museum Store Sunday’ Is Nov. 28!
Celebrating its fifth year, Museum Store Sunday is an international event where holiday shoppers will not only find quality gifts filled with inspiration and educational value, but through their purchases, will also directly support their favorite museums.
Books, DVD’s, Artwork, Home Accessories, and more are available in our online shop. A brand new selection of jewelry made with Elgin watch faces will be available starting Nov. 28. Special bundle pricing, discounts, and FREE gift with purchase will be offered. Museum Members can also use their 15% discount online! Please note: This event is ONLY online, the Museum is closed on Sunday.
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
- Welcome To Thanksgiving Dinner at Aurora’s Tanner House
- St. Charles’ Whiskey Bend Signaled Boom Time For Taverns
- From Elgin Watch Cases To 4.2 Mortar Shells
- Lorraine James’ Art Leaves Lasting Impression on Batavia
- Geneva Remembers The Tornado of 1967
- New Year’s Calling in Aurora
- Newly Digitized Footage Documents Construction of St. Charles Municipal Building
- ‘New Year’s Calling’ in Aurora Was The Online Dating of Late 1800s
- A Woman’s Right To Vote — In Elgin
- How The Household Journal Came To Batavia
- Geneva’s East Side — From Dodson To Dog ‘N’ Suds
- On Leap Year, ‘She-Wolves of Aurora’ Have ‘Gender-Swapping Fun’
- Mary Todd Lincoln, Batavia Resident
- The Women Who Broke Codes at Riverbank Labs in Geneva
- Turn Around in Aurora And You’ll Bump Into a Luxembourger
- Geneva History Museum Offers COVID-19 Journal
- Aurora’s Amazing Family Portrait Exhibit ‘A Brilliant Idea’
- How St. Charles Survived The Spanish Flu in 1918
- Elgin Epidemics — COVID-19 Is Not The First To Bring Suffering, Sorrow
- Geneva Museum Passes Milestone
- Aurora’s African-American Police Officers
- Garner Family Is St. Charles’ Juneteenth Celebration Story
- Notable Black Americans From Elgin, IL
- Black Batavians Played Key Roles in History
- Geneva History Museum Reveals Archive Redesign
- Family Secrets — Historian Finds 1866 ‘I Love … ‘ Message Scratched in Tanner House Window
- Cut Glass Was Booming During Roaring 20s in St. Charles
- Elgin Remembers Devastating Palm Sunday 1920 Tornadoes
- Batavians Find Treasure in 150-Year-Old Privies
- Geneva Hosts Virtual Night at The Museum
- Visit Aurora’s Tanner House — With a Click of The Mouse
- Elgin Cemetery Walk Is Virtual Travel Through Time
- James Prindle Jr.’s Roll Top Desk Returns To Batavia
- 60 Years Ago, Kennedy Campaigned in Geneva
- Aurora’s 1894 Central Station Proud Home of Regional Fire Museum
- Secret Symbolism in Elgin’s Bluff City Cemetery
- Meet The Doctors Who Shaped St. Charles’ History
- Batavia Inventor Paul Hassler And His Arithstyle Adding Machine
- The ‘Background’ on Geneva’s Famous Creche
- Aurora Soldier’s Diary Reveals Gripping Story of War, Love, Pain And Heroism
- St. Charles’ Delnor Hospital — A Thanksgiving Gift in 1940
- Meet Elgin’s Mary Muirhead of The WWI Army Nurse Corps
- Geneva’s Holiday Giving Tradition Continues Despite Pandemic
- Remembering The Days When Aurorans Cut Ice on The Fox River
- Arcada Plans Next Chapter of Its St. Charles Story
- Christmas Memories in Elgin
- A Brief History of The Batavia Historical Society
- Order Your Geneva Home By Mail — Right From the Catalog!
- Aurora’s Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Winter of 1918
- St. Charles’ Response to COVID-19 Sparks Memories of WWII
- Elgin’s Black Soldiers Proudly Served in U.S. Armed Forces
- Amazing Stories of Batavia’s Thriving Black Community Date Back To 1855
- Step Back in Time to See ‘HerStory’ in Geneva
- Aurora Will Never Forget The Great Flood of 1857
- When Cars Came To Elgin, Tragedy Followed
- Batavia’s Female Athletes Fought To Play The Games They Love
- Take a Tour of Geneva Art History!
- Play Ball! Hall of Famer Casey Stengel Among the Greats to Round The Bases in Aurora
- St. Charles History Hustle Pays Homage to Long-Lost Sport of Competitive Walking
- Elgin’s History Is Written in Street Signs
- Batavia Museum Finds Treasure in Capt. Carr’s Spyglass
- Celebrate 185 Years of Kane County Courthouse in Geneva
- Meet Aurora’s Peerless Publisher, Olive Beaupre Miller
- Charles Haines — The Man Who Saved St. Charles Schools
- Elgin’s Perry Thomas — From Inventor to Atomic Bomb Photographer
- Take Me Out To The (Batavia American Legion) Ballgame
- Aurora Journalist Randy Shilts Helped Frame Debate About Gay Rights Movement
- Wheeler’s Rolltop Desk Held Secrets of Underground Railroad in St. Charles
- Aviation Began To Take Off at Hoornbeek Airfield in Elgin
- Kane County History: Good Roads Day! Batavia Was The Starting Link of The Lincoln Highway
- Geneva Museum Is Reimagined, Reopened — And Admission Is Free!
- John Rogers’ ‘Council of War’ at Aurora’s Tanner House Museum
- Today’s Drivers Owe Thanks To Elgin Motor Club
- 3 Men Behind Batavia’s Fame as ‘Windmill Capital of The World’
- Grotto on Government Center Campus Is One of Geneva’s Hidden Gems
- The Boys of Summer, Aurora Style
- Elgin Preserves History, Honors Past at Bluff City Cemetery
- Restored Headstones at West Side Cemetery Tell Geneva’s Story
- A Mormon Tale in Aurora, IL
- Batavia Hardware Store Owner Was Early Race-Car Builder
- The Quest To Light Aurora’s Streets
- St. Charles Is Thankful For C.V. Amenhoff And The Legend of Charlemagne
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