Parks of Paris Illinios

Please visit the Parks Department  for information on park hours, concession hours, camping fees, and boat licenses. Select several of the parks below for more information.

Blackhawk Park

Blackhawk Park is approximately 10 acres used as a Scouting area and fishing area. It is a primitive naturalistic setting with many scenic trails and natural walkways. Parking is available during park hours only.

Peters Waterworks Park

Schwartz Park

ocated on Wood Street, Schwartz Park is a beautiful one-acre wooded park with a gazebo, gardens, and a man-made brick walkway circling the inside of the park. For those interesting in walking the park, 4-to-5 laps equal a mile.

Blackhawk Park Entrance
Schwartz Park

The following is an interesting story about Reservoir Park which was published by the Commercial Club of Paris, Illinois, 1903-1904:

“Reservoir Park, comprising the grounds adjoining the city reservoir, one mile north of the city, is without exception, the finest pleasure resort within a radius of one hundred miles. Although open to the public only a few years, it has already become the Mecca of summer pleasure seekers throughout a large section of Illinois and Indiana.

For a place of rest and recreation, it is unrivaled. The lake, covering an area of sixty-six acres (as of 1904) abounds in black bass and other game fish. Bass weighing as much as six pounds have been caught. An average weight of four pounds is altogether common. Row boats are to be had at a reasonable rental-rate, while a steam-boat and a naphtha launch with a combined capacity of 175 passengers ply the lake on all occasions.

The park grounds, encircling the lake, are of ample extent and furnish an ideal place for camping, parties, and picnics. They are covered with a natural growth of forest, with trees, which are picturesque in the extreme, being interspersed with romantic glades and glens, hills, and ravines, where ferns and flowers grow wild and refreshing mineral springs flow perpetually.

The park is well supplied with swings and merry-go-rounds, dining halls and dancing pavilion, which are available at all times.

Reservoir Park is reached from the city by the C.V.C. railway, and two wagon roads. A street-car line, connecting it with the city, will also be in operation in the near future.

A summer Chautauqua will be held in the park in August 1904, and annually thereafter, some of the best talent in the country having been already engaged.” That is the end of the Paris Commercial Clubs story.”

In West Park, presently the Boy and Girls Scout Camp, between 1910 and 1920, wooden-pegs could be found in some of the trees where the Indian squaws hung their papooses. The Indians were of the Kickapoo tribe. Some of the children of the Means family used to play with the Indian children. In the early days the walking paths were neat, and the woods were clean and well kept. In the beginning, the virgin forest was a beautiful wooded area. At one time in the park, there was a spring and springhouse, with seats and canopy top. There were 2 springs in the northwest part of West Park, one was a clear spring and one that the Indians used. It is said the Indians used the one with mineral water.

Miss Elizabeth Huston, now living in Paris, remembers spending summers in a cottage located on land adjoining the west park (just east of the railroad bridge). She remembers that in the same area Dr. W. A. Buchanan built a beautiful log cabin on a point nearer the lakefront. The Buchanans would from time to time have groups of their friends visit and spend many happy vacations in this cabin. The cabin still stands today, and is used as a private home. Getting back to the Chautauqua again, Miss Huston remembers attending the Chautauqua, which was held in the West Park. Special trains carried passengers from the Paris railway station to the West Park. A picture on the back cover of the Paris Chautauqua program for 1905 shows the disembarking of passengers entering the Chautauqua grounds.

Mr. Emil Taflinger of Paris remembers the early ice business and relates the following information:

“It may be difficult for people of today to think that some of us still living, remember days when there were no electric refrigerators, and that ice used to keep food from spoiling, was obtained from the first lake that furnished sprinkling water to the town of Paris.

One day after school, a group of us went out to the lake, for we had heard they were cutting ice, and we wanted to see it. It was very cold after several nights of sub-zero weather and the ice was real thick and per¬fect to cut. It was frozen solid and clear and it was a good eighteen inches or more thick.

We arrived at the icehouse just as they had chipped a hole in the ice with an axe. It was large enough to place the ice saw, a man was sawing in a straight line, and he did not stop until he went some twenty or more feet. Then he removed the saw, went back to the hole, and sawed another line eighteen inches to one side and he sawed it in a parallel line to the original. Then he sawed it into chunks about three feet long. These were pulled out on the ice and slid over to scaffolding. A hook would descend on a rope and the piece was hoisted to the platform at the top and then lowered into the large elevator like storage house where it was buried in sawdust alongside similar chunks of ice. This kept the air away and the ice would not melt while it was stored. The icehouse was on the north bank across from where the present amusement park now is located. The scaffolding made an ideal place to climb up above the lake and to dive in for a swim. We did that on many occasions.

When summer-time came, the ice wagons began making daily delivery of the ice all over the town. It was a familiar scene to see the wagon being followed by boys and girls who hoped to get small pieces of ice as the large chunk was cut into smaller pieces at each stop. The iceman kept an alert to discover the ice card hanging from a customer’s porch. One side of a card stated 25, and the other three sides had the numerals, 50, 75, and 100. That told him how big a piece of ice to deliver. When he would place his delivery in an icebox on the customer’s porch, or in a kitchen, he would bring his tongs back to hang in their place alongside the scale he used to weigh the ice pieces. He would have to shoo the children away but by the time he got in his wagon, there would be some bold ones hop on for the ride and to save running to the next house. An accident happened when a boy fell and got hurt and city authorities discouraged the practice. They were never entirely successful.

During some winters, there was no extremely cold weather and in those years, only the wealthiest families could afford ice that was shipped in from a distance. People always were glad to have one “cold-snap” as they said, for then they would be able to buy the cheaper home cut ice from our lake.

When the electric refrigerators came along, the Paris Ice Company gradually reached the place where it could not continue.”

Mr. Emil Taflinger also relates this interesting story about the SINKING OF THE LUISITANIA OR THE SHIP THAT WOULD NOT SINK.

“The Fire Works Factory was west of the C. V. and C. Railroad on the north bank across from the Park. An Italian family, experts in their business, ran the going concern for a span of years. They shipped their products to far places, but Paris was one of their best customers. With the band giving a concert each Thursday night during the season, and that being followed with the fire-works was enough to make a gala event to bring thousands of people to the Court House Square. The band played one week on one corner and moved to the other corners consecutively each week for the customers who flocked in for refreshments, to the door that was open on that particular corner. The fireworks displays were magnificent and the Paris Band was the pride of our town.

No better fireworks anywhere, and those who witnessed, still remember.

At picnics and celebrations at the Park, there was usually a display of fireworks. The family always attended to the firing and everything about the performance went “just like clock-work.” It was interesting to watch the man with the torch, as he went about the field to light each fuse at the right time to keep the show going with true professional timing.”

Mr. Taflinger states that he never missed any of the fireworks displays, but there was one that never went according to the advertising. It had been history that the United States was being drawn into THE WAR for the Lusitania had gone down in the Atlantic. Right with perfect timing, it was advertised everywhere that the Lusitania would be sunk by fire works at the Lagoon just west of the dance pavilion at West Park. A structure extended from the bank where thousands watched. It ex¬tended almost over to the other bank of the bayou, not exactly a ship, but certainly a framework of one was there, ready for the bombardment. Giant crackers and ex¬plosives, high and low, were tied everywhere and once the fuse was lighted, there would be no end until the Lusitania would be completely blown to bits and went to the bottom. Blast after blast shook the Lusitania and jarred the earth and every¬thing and everybody on it for a great dis¬tance. The smoke thickened and the bom¬bardment gathered in momentum until it was a dense atmosphere of noise and smoke and the smell of gunpowder. Finally, after the most terrific of the blasts, a small firecracker went “pip” and all was quiet. Like the flag on Old Fort Sumpter, the ship was still there, battered but unsunk!”

Eventually, the Fireworks Factory was destroyed. Mr. Taflinger, as well as many other Paris residents, remembers being awakened by loud explosions one night and after several hours the fireworks factory was blown to bits and burned. It was never rebuilt after that fire. Explosions sounded for many hours during the catastrophe.

For the record, the cost of the Shelter House at Twin Lakes Park was paid by public subscription and named Spicer Shelter. Mr. Ray Spicer was the largest contributor, having donated $5000.00. Prior to his death in 1950, he was President of the Paris Park Board.

A plaque was erected on the Spicer Shelter in 1954, with the in¬scription: SPICER SHELTER DEDICATED 1954

The plaque included the names of the members of the Paris Park Board at that time.

Mr. Arden Pratt, Earl Pratt and Miss Elizabeth Huston of Paris remember visiting a small zoo in the park. The zoo had ostriches, six prairie dogs, goats, raccoons, one big black bear, one small bear and monkeys. The Zoo Manager was C. E. Pier¬son, who was also the Game Warden.

Balloon ascensions were held on the Fourth of July and other holidays from the West Park area. Mr. Carl Stacy of the Paris Park Board remembers the balloon would ascend and the operator then would jump out in a parachute, sometimes he would land in the park and sometimes he would land in the lake.

Miss Elizabeth Huston remembers swimming in the lake with moss floating around and with being covered with leeches and moss. (Where was the Environmental Protection Agency in those days? How did the people survive with so much pollution? Very well)

Mrs. Frank Meehling of Marshall, Illinois, remembers when she was a small girl in the first or second grade at St. Mary’s school in Paris (Mrs. Meehling was born near Redmon in 1898) and she had gone for a surrey ride with a family of a playmate. We were supposed to be riding on the lake bottom. It was hard, dry and cracked, and which lake it was, was undoubtedly Reservoir Park lake bottom. Mr. Paxson Link also remembers riding a horse across the lake bottom a couple of times.