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Q: When did the slide that went down into Rock River at Black Hawk State Park close? My father told me about it.

A: Marlene Gantt, author of the ``Images of the Past'' column that appears weekly in The Dispatch, fixed the date at ``around 1925.''

Quad-Citian Reva Winters, then 89, was quoted in a 2000 feature story about the Rock River as saying, ``I went on the chute its last year, in 1923.''

The ``Shoot-the-Chute'' slide was constructed in the 1890s, and was part of an immense amusement park that also included a figure-8 roller coaster, hot-air ballon rides, shooting galleries, a 1,000-seat theater and a steady stream of speakers that included such luminaries as William Jennings Bryan and Gen. William Sherman.

Ms. Gantt, who had access to the memorabilia of developer James F. Lardner, found this contemporary description from a Clinton newspaper: ``Here you start at 500 feet above the water on the inclined plane. After the descent begins, the speed increases and the wind whistles past like a tornado. You hang to the boat with one hand and grasp your hat with the other, and hold your breath to prevent it getting away from you. Then you strike the water and the boat gives a big jump, landing 25 to 50 feet distaant right side up with care, and the boatman guides you back to the foot of the chute, where an electric motor hauls it and ocupants to the top.''

The amusement park was developed and operated by local trolley-car company owners to promote weekend and evening use of the trolleys. They also promoted trolley parties featuring the park.

The July 4, 1896 festivities were reported to have drawn more than 15,000 people.

The park's popularity faded with the decline of trolley use; and local citizens in 1927 convinced the state to buy the site and return it to nature.

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