Janesville’s Riverside Park has a rich and unique history. Purchased in 1922, Riverside Park became the city’s centerpiece filled with natural beauty and great recreation. This was largely owed to foresight and leadership of Mr. Henry Traxler, Janesville’s first City Manager, and Mr. Joe Lustig, City Engineer. The park became the city’s outdoor recreational center with its artesian wells, playgrounds, wading pool, shuffle board and tennis courts, ball diamonds, and eighteen hole golf course. Once there were even rides offered from a tour boat called the Silver Queen and a miniature train, the Riverside and Great Northern Railway. Over decades city residents and visitors from far and wide, were left with many great memories of a very beautiful and enjoyable place to visit.
The Riverside Park land was purchased for the sole purpose of fulfilling Janesville’s urgent need for a large park. Janesville was behind the times for park acquisition and development. The city was long overdue for a park for its people. The land was perfect; up river away from the dust and noise of the city it had enough acreage for a golf course and park. The land was diverse with wooded areas, Scenic River overlooks with room for baseball diamonds and picnic areas. The river even offered a lovely sandy spot for swimming and water recreation.
In 1929 the city began to develop the upper park area known as the Old Stone Quarry. The public works dept. installed the lovely stone steps we see today in the north end of the park. The steps lead to the upper Devil’s Staircase Path. The original or lower path leads along the river. It is still there today.
More details to come regarding:
- Artesian wells
- Silver Queen
- Tom Thumb train
- Devil's Staircase