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On January 29, 1859 skaters made a trip by frozen river from Dubuque to Galena in one hour and fourteen minutes. Other trips by frozen river included dashes from the Ice Harbor to CATFISH CREEK where the creek was followed to ROCKDALE. It was a long hike home. Some fearless types skated to Bellevue and then took the railroad home.
A skating rink was constructed in 1882 at Municipal Ballpark located on East 4th Street.
Skating on the river generally ended with the development of a commercial rink at the Ice Harbor. As soon as the ice was solid, a high wooden fence on the ice enclosed an area for skating. On Sundays a band played appropriate music from an open bandshell in the middle of the rink. The business was first operated by the Bowens and then John and Charles Keckevoet.
In 1912 the Dubuque City Council proposed a free skating rink in the Ice Harbor. Other rinks were established at the Municipal Athletic Field, Comiskey Park and at the West Third Street water reservoir on its cement roof. By 1933 other rinks were opened at Rafferty's Field on South Locust, Pennsylvania Avenue, and at Dodge and Booth STREETS. Since then skaters have found winter fun at FLORA PARK and ALLISON-HENDERSON PARK.
A argument between two individuals offering skating on the Ice Harbor due to legal action in 1895. This was avoided in 1896 when the city council awarded the right to operate a rink to Ernest Bohn whose bid of $150 was the highest. (1)
1. "City Council, Dubuque Daily Herald, November 1, 1896, p. 8
Kruse, Len. "Ice Skating in the Good Old Days," My Old Dubuque, Center for Dubuque History, Loras College, 2000 p. 313-315
Zepeski Norman. Interview-1989