Eagle Point Park
Eagle Point Park: The Legend & The Lodge
Elijah Buell, the first settler of Lyons, owned 88 acres of land. On October 11, 1888, he sold the land to the owners of the Clinton and Lyons Railway, David and William Joyce. The 88 acres of land was the called Joyce's Park. Under the new ownership, mule-drawn cars ran on a narrow-gauge rail from Main Street to the park. On December 1, 1891, The Clinton Street Railway changed to electric driven cars and found it necessary to enlarge the tracks. Since there was no entrance to the park except by rail, the company ran an eight-mile line to the park in 1902. Admittance was free but there was a five-cent fare to ride the rail car. Soon after, Joyce's Park was enlarged and used year round. There were four pavilions without water service, but a great deal of amusement equipment was provided, as well as free movies in the evenings. Dances, with several hundred people in attendance, were held on a regular basis. In 1913, the railway spent a great deal of money on enlarging the rail line and the main pavilion. It is said that there was a discovery of a dead tree, located where the North Path reached the old well and a wild eagle had made it's nest. From that point onward, Joyce's Park become known as Eagle Point Park.
Leo Hannaher believed to be the first salaried superintendent of Clinton Parks and Ward W Cook, the Park Board Commissioner, conceived the idea of a road around the park in the late 1920s. They walked ahead of a tractor with a plow directing a farmer to make a "Serpentine Drive". The Serpentine Drive was constructed for only $700. When the depression struck Clinton in 1933-34, the Clinton Board of Park Commissioners immediately took advantage of Work Progress Administration funds. WPA funds were given by the Federal Government to states in order to employee people during the depression. The program was the biggest relief program, in U.S. history, used for direct relief of the unemployed. Literally, hundreds of people worked to improve the park for $15 a week. Three million in WPA funds went into beautifying Eagle Point Park. The stone tower, limestone footbridge, many trails and miles of walks were engineered with the funds, including the legendary 'Thousand Steps'. Also in 1934, WPA workman built the present lodge structure around the original 1930 rustic shelter. The present structure became known as "The Lodge".
History also tells of the Fox and Sac Indians worshipping Stone Face. This is a huge rock overlooking the river from one of the bluffs, holding the natural formation of a man's face. Legend tells of a ruthless Indian tribe from the Great Plains attempting a huge deer kill without consulting Stone Face. As they attempted to encircle the deer, a dark cloud appeared out of the west, causing a great wind that uprooted trees and dropped sheets of rain. Many of the ruthless red men were killed and the rest were frightened and fled. When Stone Face found they had left, the storm subsided. A band of Sacs came upon the dead, burying them, worshiping Stone Face, settling down to hunt and fish right here in the Gateway area. The location of Stone Face is currently unknown.