This Looking Back continues our journey across Champaign County from east to west on the Pennsylvania Railroad.
This stop is Fountain Park, which is a mile west of Woodstock. Photo #1 (A1014) is of the railroad depot at Fountain Park circa 1947. A. J. and Azro Smith platted the town of Fountain Park where Urbana Woodstock Pike and Park Road meet. At that location in 1880 they established a recreation and health center. A natural spring was located on the site, the water of which was thought to have medicinal value. Then a large hotel was built on the site. Later the hotel was sold to a man from New York who promoted it into a popular resort with people coming from afar to take mud and steam baths. The hotel burned in 1900. Sometime later a new Fountain Park Hotel was built. Among other things, it was the site of a dinner meeting of the Urbana Manufacturers Association on March 12, 1921.
Across the street, the Bates Inn & Bath House (Photo #2) was built in 1923 by Frank Bates, former trainer of world heavyweight boxing champion John L. Sullivan.
For several years, members of the Cincinnati Reds baseball team came here for steam baths and training. In the 1960s it housed the Fountain Park Nursing Home. Neither building remains today.
The Champaign County Historical Museum is a not-for-profit organization that depends upon donations and dues to preserve, protect, archive and display the artifacts that tell the Champaign County story. The free public museum located at 809 E. Lawn Ave., Urbana, is open to the public Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.