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Encyclopedia Dubuque



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LAKE PEOSTA. Located in the northeast corner of this map, the area around Lake Peosta was once a hideout for criminals.

The Gantenbein property on Lake Peosta. Photo courtesy: Peg Wagner

For Peg Wagner of Dubuque, however, the area was a childhood home of wonder and charm. Located on the eastern side of the railroad tracks, her family's property included the former home of her grandparents, her home, and a collection of out buildings.

Photo courtesy: Peg Wagner

Access to the property, there was no road, was achieved by climbing over a hill from Garfield Street where their car was parked and then down a wooden ramp. Her father also built a series of wooden steps along the path at intervals to ease the walk over hazardous inclines.

Photo courtesy: Peg Wagner

Isolated from other families by fields of willows, Mr. and Mrs. Charlie Gantenbein and their children Peg and Chuck lived a life that included the joys of fishing in the summer from their boat dock and skating in the winter.

Peg, his father, and her brother. Photo courtesy: Peg Wagner
Lake Peosta was a popular skating site. Peg's mother is the second from the right. Photo courtesy: Peg Wagner

Peg's father had one rule,"If you were going to skate, you had to help shovel the snow off the ice." Lake Peosta was only several feet deep and anyone interested in using the quiet waters for water skiing in the summer were warned of the submerged stumps and metal barrels.

Photo courtesy: Peg Wagner

High water in the spring was an annual occurrence. A flood wall was constructed around the family house, but often with little effect. Peg's mother would row her family from the house to the ramp to get to school or work. Peg related that when the basement flooded, her mother would stand on the bottom step with a fishnet to catch floating vegetables for dinner.

In 1956 the family's property was purchased by the city. Plans were underway to fill Lake Peosta to establish the first of the city's INDUSTRIAL PARKS.

Photo courtesy: Peg Wagner

The Gantenbein home with all its furnishings was lifted from its foundation and moved north along the railroad tracks to the corner near the present Point Restaurant. The former site of the house was soon prepared for the construction of BARNSTEAD/THERMOLYNE.

Photo courtesy: Peg Wagner

Barely visible in 2011, the arch beneath the roadway near the lock and dam was once the access to Lake Peosta from the river. The lake now lies beneath the parking lot visible in the picture.

Several days later, it was pulled along Rhomberg Avenue to its current location.

Photo courtesy: Peg Wagner

In 1961 the opening of the Lake Peosta Channel shoreline north of the E. 16th Street bridge for small boat dock space was approved by the Dubuque Dock Commission. An estimated 750 feet of shoreline beginning 400 feet north of the bridge was to be made available. This would allow approximately 75 boats to be accommodated. Space was leased on a year-to-year basis at the rate of $2.00 per foot. (1)

Use of the shoreline was to be on a temporary basis. When industry chose to locate in the area, the boaters would have to move. The Commission said that those who use the space would be given first opportunity to lease space in the proposed new small boat harbor south of the E. 16th Street bridge on the city island side of the channel. (2)

Space for small boats was limited in Dubuque according to Commission members. There were also many violators who used up to three times the space they needed or paid rent. (3)



1. Shively, Neil. "To Open Lake Peosta Channel to Boat Rental," Telegraph Herald, March 14, 1061, p. 1

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid., p. 4

The house that had once been located at 1810 Shiras was relocated to 1410 Garfield.