BY Clint Wolf, Editor – Jul 14, 2022
BELOIT–Did you know that State Street in downtown Beloit used to be called Turtle Street? And there used to be six miles of track downtown on which a trolley would shuttle people to destinations on both sides of the Rock River.
These bits of Beloit history and more will be shared by Beloit history buff John Sabaka during a Beloit History Walk set for 9–11 a.m. July 23. The event, presented by the Beloit Historical Society, Downtown Beloit Association and the City of Beloit Parks and Recreation Department, will start at the Beloit City Hall building, 100 State St., and then move through the downtown area.
The event is free and participants are encouraged to wear comfortable, durable shoes, since the tour will cover a lot of ground.
The tour has not been held for the past few years, mostly due to health precautions initiated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But, now the tour has returned and Sabaka is eager to share his knowledge of local history.
The tour includes historic photos of some sites from downtown Beloit. There also will be information about Beloit’s trolley system and the intra-urban railroad, which ran from Rockford to Beloit to Janesville from 1902 to 1930.
Sabaka also will point out the former location of the Joseph Thibault homestead. A stone marker near the corner of State Street and Shirland Avenue now marks where Thibault used to live in the 1830s. Thibault was a fur trader and trapper who built a cabin near the confluence of the Rock River and Turtle Creek after the Black Hawk War. Sabaka also will discuss how the Black Hawk war impacted the area.
The early settlers of Beloit will be part of the discussion during the tour. People such as Caleb Blodgett, Dr. Horace White and Squire Goodhue, and their part in Beloit’s history will be explained.
The site of the Sturtevant, Wright and Wagner Dairy Company will be pointed out. The site, at the corner of Fourth Street and Grand Avenue, now is home the the Wright and Wagner Lofts apartment building, and the building is marked with the historic name of the dairy company.
The tour will follow the River Walk to the statue of Ken Hendricks. The founding of Beloit College in 1846 also will be part of the presentation, as well as some history about the college.
Also, there will be some information about O.V. “Verne” Schaffer, who created hundreds of sculptures that have been placed throughout Beloit, and across the nation.
To reserve a place on this free tour, call the Beloit Parks and Recreation Department at 608-364-2890.