For the last fifteen weeks I have been in the Clark County Historical Society archives scanning photographs from the Moores Photo Collection. The photos capture snapshots of Springfield at multiple angles from 1938 to 1972. People, places, and ponies are frozen in time thanks to amateur photographer W. Huston Moores. My goal for this project was to make the Moores collection more accessible by having digital scans for easy sharing.
Let’s travel back in time to explore Springfield through the eyes of Mr. Moores, and maybe learn a little history along the way.
Farming is a noble profession. Working endlessly to provide for all families, farmers move forward into the future with the help of new innovations. Springfield has aided farmers in their labors by manufacturing agricultural machinery.
Many industries developed here including, the Champion Machine Company, which produced mowers and reapers under the direction of William Whiteley. Horse drawn machines changed the agricultural landscape with the help of Whiteley who invented “champion” farming equipment.
Let’s Go to the Movies
The Apollo Theater in Springfield illuminates the street, offering two motion pictures. Drawn in by glowing and flashing lights, moviegoers could enjoy the Golden Age of Hollywood. During the 1930s, theaters used different gimmicks to attract patrons including ladies nights. These tactics could have resulted in Americans going to see a motion picture 95 million times each week in 1930, or maybe it was because the average admission ticket at the time cost 23 cents. Either way, motions pictures did not lose popularity despite the Depression, and attendance gradually rose until the end of World War II.
Log cabins are not American in origin, but European. Colonists from Finland and Sweden built the first log houses in present day Pennsylvania in 1638. As settlers moved west, various buildings, including houses, churches, and schools, continued to be constructed from logs.
Near the end of the nineteenth century, fewer and fewer log cabins were being built for residential housing; however, the rustic style found popularity with vacation resorts. For instance, Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming is a log cabin, but on a much larger scale. Years later in the 1930s and 1940s, the Civilian Conservation Corps used log construction for different structures within Federal and State parks. Log cabins have a long history and their style remained popular among Americans.
The Circus Came to Town
The Ringling Brothers Circus enchanted Springfielders in 1941. Elephants, clowns, and tigers probably arrived by train to entertain young and old. Because of the railroad, people all over the country could enjoy the visual spectacles of a three ringed circus. Showman William C. Coup, partner of P.T. Barnum, designed train cars specifically for the circus, and the first circus train was used in 1872. The railroad continued its tradition of transporting “The Greatest Show on Earth” until recently when the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus gave its last performance in May 2017.
Imagine crowds of people shoulder to shoulder on the sidewalks hoping not to miss a single fantastical detail as the Cole Bros. Circus parades through town. Animals of all types would be featured under the big top, and where there are animals there are animal trainers.
Clyde Beatty performed for the Cole Bros. Circus for three years beginning in 1935. His acts brought him fame by showing off his bravery and control over wild animals, including polar bears and various big cats. In recent years, Cole Bros. Circus has been protested on numerous occasions due to animal abuse, and has violated federal laws, such as the Animal Welfare Act.
Covington-Cincinnati Suspension Bridge
Moores and his camera traveled outside of Springfield. The Roebling suspension bridge connecting Covington, Kentucky to Cincinnati, Ohio took ten years to build, and at the time of its opening on January 1, 1867, it was the longest bridge in the world. Named after John A. Roebling, designer and builder of the bridge, the Cincinnati suspension bridge is a National Historic Landmark.
Roebling was also the engineer for the Brooklyn Bridge in New York and his son followed in his footsteps in overseeing the bridge construction in Cincinnati. Work stopped in the late 1850s due to financial strain, but the Civil War boosted the need to finish the bridge in order to move soldiers and supplies across the Ohio River. For 150 years, people have driven or walked across the Ohio River by way of the Covington-Cincinnati Suspension Bridge which continues to accommodate travelers today.
Camden, New Jersey opened the first ever drive-in movie theater in 1933. Richard Hollingshead came up with the idea as a response to his mother being unable to sit comfortably in the indoor theater seats. Drive-ins became especially popular with the help of in-car speakers and they soon reached their peak in the 1950s with nearly 5,000 drive-ins in the U.S. The Melody Cruise-In in Springfield opened during the height of outdoor movie going, but closed just like the Show Boat Drive-In across the street.
By Julie Hale
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