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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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BALDWIN, Bruce "Circus." (Galena, IL, Apr. 29, 1862-St. Joseph, MO, Apr. 16, 1914). At the age of six, Baldwin and his parents moved to Cascade, Iowa. When the Cascade Pioneer was established in June 23, 1876, he went to work as an apprentice. He continued working for the paper when his father, Isaac Baldwin, purchased it in 1877. He later became a journeyman printer and traveled the country. He returned to Iowa and established the Cascade Courier, a short-lived publication, in 1895. (1)

Baldwin was considered one of eastern Iowa's best-known sports writers and experts on the racetrack. His use of colorful circus phrases when writing ensured his nickname "Circus." This was despite the fact that his only association with the circus had been two brief employments with circus advertising departments. Baldwin later used "Circus" as a pseudonym when writing in different parts of the country. In 1898 Baldwin was one of two correspondents named as potential war correspondents for the Illinois National Guard if it were called to war. (2) He was temporarily unemployed in June, 1898 when he was called by Charles HANCOCK.

In association with Hancock, Baldwin was in charge of publicity for the futurity race held in Dubuque in 1899. In 1912 he held the position of secretary for the Nutwood Driving Club. (3)

Baldwin was confident that with his personal acquaintance with many people in racing that he could attract many of the fastest horses on the Grand and Great Western circuits to Dubuque. Taking over the entire promotion, he announced that Dubuque would stage a great harness race on September 17-20, 1912. This was during an open week in the schedules of both circuits allowing the fastest trotters and pacers to use the mile track for handsome purses. The program showed: (4)

           Tuesday, September 17th Merchants' and Manufacturers' stake
                    2:24 class trotters, $1,500
                                   Dubuque Industrial Corporation stake
                    2:12 pace $1,500
                                   Trotting Race 2:17 class $700
           Wednesday, September 18th (Dubuque Day)
                    Dubuque Club stake, 2:25 class pacers $1,000
                    Hotel Julien stake, 2:12 trotters $1,000
                    Pacing 2:16 class $700
           Thursday, September 19th
                    Hotel Wales stake, 2:07 pace $1,000
                    Dubuque Brewing and Malting Company state
                          2:15 class trotters $1,500
                    Pacing, 2:10 class, $700
           Friday, September 20
                    Three-year-old class trotting stake $1,500
                    Mile dash, running $100
                    Seven, six and four furlong races purse of
                          $100 for each event

With the certainty of a race and the money established, the DUBUQUE INDUSTRIAL CORPORATION announced that a Made-in-Dubuque exposition would be held during the same week as the races. With Baldwin's prediction that the race would attract 30,000 people and thousands of out-of-town visitors, an athletic association announced a boxing carnival. This was to be held two nights on Stumpf's Island in the MISSISSIPPI RIVER. Baldwin used $5,000 to advertise the races in leading turf magazines and had 5,400 names on a mailing list. Repairs and improvements to Nutwood Park cost $3,500. On the day before the race was to be held, 125 horses were housed at NUTWOOD PARK. All the hotels were filled. (5)



1. "Cosmopolitan Life of Bruce Baldwin," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, April 26, 1914, p. 41

2. "War Correspondents," Dubuque Herald, April 9, 1898, p. 8

3. "The Coming Races," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, April 4, 1912, p. 9

4. "Bruce Baldwin Cones to Town and the Horses Prick Up Their Ears and Things Begin to Hum at Nutwood Park," Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal, March 6, 1933, p. 9

5. Ibid.