Libby Reuter and Joshua Rowan
April 30, 2015
Big Bend / Layton Road
Madison County, Illinois
N38.677089 W90.117458

Horseshoe Lake, the second largest natural lake in Illinois, is the remnant of an ancient Mississippi River channel, cut off from the main body of water when the river changed its course centuries ago. Later, when the St. Louis region was developing as an industrial and manufacturing hub, the lake, with several resorts and picnic grounds, was a popular vacation spot for city dwellers. Today, the Horseshoe Lake State Park is on the eastern side of the lake, near the former site of the Mollenbrock Resort, a late 19th century amusement park, dance hall, and Rod and Gun club, with stables for guests’ horses. Guests who didn’t ride around the lake on horseback or in carriages could take the Yellow Hammer streetcar to the north side of the lake and catch a ferry to Mollenbrock’s. The railroad tracks in this image follow a similar route across the lake, carrying, not vacationers, but industrial materials to and from Granite City Steel. Granite City Steel’s smokestacks, seen on the horizon, are on the north side of the lake near the former location of the end of the Yellow Hammer line and the Bricker and Young’s Summer Resort.