Life & Times

View of Vandruff Island from Black Hawk Tower

Vandruff’s Island lies just outside Rock Island’s border, with this view from Black Hawk’s Watch Tower being enjoyed by thousands through the decades.  This postcard, from the Augustana College Library Special Collections, dates from around 1920 and shows the island with the Rock River on either side and the town of Milan visible in the … [ Continued

Model T Touring Car – Rock Island to California

Second Avenue & 14th Street  Sometimes there’s a postcard that allows our imagination to play.  This is one such card.  It was hard to identify, but there were clues.  First, the sign hanging on the building says “Brown’s Business College.”  Then there were the words someone had scrawled on the back of the unaddressed and … [ Continued

Black Hawk Watch Tower Amusement Park

Black Hawk Road near 17th Street Here is a peek at Rock Island’s own homegrown amusement park.  Like Chicago’s Riverview, New York’s Coney Island, and the much later Disneyland, the Watch Tower amusement park was a destination for people from near and far in the early 1900s.  It was located in an area that we … [ Continued

Rock Island County Tuberculosis Sanitarium

2122 25th Avenue  The plague of tuberculosis, usually called TB, is all but forgotten, thanks to modern antibiotics. As recently as the early 20th century, it was the leading cause of death for those between the ages of 15 and 45. There was no effective treatment for TB until the mid 1900s.  Today TB, nearly … [ Continued

Odd Fellows Building

1716-18 Fourth Avenue  On October 10, 1912, the International Order of Odd Fellows, UCAL Lodge #608, gathered at 1716-18 Fourth Avenue to lay the cornerstone for their new $50,000 building.  In January of that year, when the building was still in the planning stage, it had been reported that it would cost only $20,000. Odd … [ Continued

FAREWELL – Night Scene Second Avenue

Second Avenue, East from 17th Street “Arrived in Rock Island today. This is near our hotel and the train station.” It is a typical message for this enduringly popular postcard scene where 17th Street meets Second Avenue as it bends to follow the river in downtown Rock Island.  Here, the camera has captured a long … [ Continued

Mississippi River Scene

Shannon Hall’s extensive postcard collection is the source of this postcard captioned, “Mississippi River, Rock Island, Illinois.”   It was created by Detroit Publishing Company, which operated from about 1895 to the mid 1930s.  That company sent photographers all over the world and also bought negatives from other photographers.  It published not only postcards, but also … [ Continued

Masonic Temple

420 18th Street This circa 1915 postcard shows the Masonic Temple at the northwest corner of 18th Street and Fifth Avenue that had been built only two years earlier.  It looks the same today, with the only apparent changes being an added fire escape and a new lighted sign hung at the corner. The dream … [ Continued