Davenport Opens New Park

October  11, 2013

     It's still far from finished, but Davenport has opened a new park. This morning, city officials cut the ribbon for River Heritage Park, on the riverfront and just upstream from Government Bridge.

     Mayor Bill Gluba says the name comes from the fact that some of the most important events in the city's early history took place on the 7-acre site. 

     "For example, they'll learn that in 1832 the famous treaty ending the Black Hawk War was signed on this very site by Chief Keokuk. And how Antoine LeClaire and his wife Margarite donated land received by that treaty to form the city of Davenport."

     Starting in 1825, it was also the site of the first ferries. Historian Karen Anderson says each one was bigger than the last to accomodate the growing tide of settlers going west.

     ""That ferry ran 24 hours a day, with as many as six wagons and teams on it at a time, and they still could not keep up with the long lines that night and day lined the river in Rock Island. In 1858, Wilkie described it as a sea of cattle and canvas up the Brady Street hill and far out over the prairie as far as the eye could see."

     And with the first railroad bridge across the Mississippi River, built nearby in 1856, Anderson says the Atlantic and Pacific oceans were linked - through Davenport.

     River Heritage Park is being built in stages as money becomes available. A pavilion, with funding from the Davenport Rotary Club, is nearly finished. And the state of Iowa has just committed 300,000 dollars to build a lighted promenade along the river, and to extend the safety rail to the end of the park.