The Hauberg Indian Museum, located in the lodge constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1934, interprets the culture of the Sauk and Mesquakie. The collection of Dr. John Hauberg, a Rock Island philanthropist, forms the basis of the museum’s collection, which features full-size replicas of Sauk winter and summer houses. Dioramas with life-size figures depict activities of the Sauk and Mesquakie people typical of the period 1750 to 1830. Many artifacts, including authentic trade goods, jewelry and domestic items are displayed.
From 1882 to 1927 the Watch Tower amusement park occupied the area that would become Black Hawk State Historic Site. Local businessman Bailey Davenport, president and superintendent of the Rock Island and Milan Steam Railway, developed the Watch Tower as a destination for his rail line. Horse-drawn cars were phased out in favor of electric cars in the 1890s, and daily attendance soared as high as 15,000 as people took the streetcar to Watch Tower for concerts, operas, vaudeville, open-air theater, fireworks, bowling, target shooting, outdoor movies (projected on a canvas screen that often flapped in the breeze), balloon ascensions and amusement rides. The Watch Tower boasted a figure-eight roller coaster (the four loops made it the first of its kind west of Chicago) and the memorable Shoot the Chutes toboggan slide, which was invented in Rock Island. Beginning in 1898 the "Chutes" – flat boats with side runners that slid on a greased track – carried riders down the bluff at speeds of up to 80 miles per hour. After shooting down the slope, the boat bounced across the waters of the Rock River. Then the "conductor" poled the boat back to the slide an an electric cable hauled it back to the top.
Built of native limestone and timber, the Black Hawk lodge consists of three buildings connected by a covered walkway: the Hauberg Indian Museum, a Civilian Conservation Corps museum, and a central meeting hall. Featured in the main room are two murals painted in 1936 by Works Progress Administration (WPA) artist Otto Hake. The murals depict the seasonal activities of the Sauk and Mesquakie Indian people.
Singing Bird Nature Center, located in the northwest section of the site, serves as an outdoor education center. Many public nature programs are held there throughout the year. One wing of the building is dedicated to the study of native birds. "Pete Peterson’s Bird Nest" features large picture windows looking onto the north woods and nearby bird-feeding stations. Contact site personnel at 309-788-9536 for public hours.
Restrooms, a pay telephone and vending machines are available in the lodge. There are three picnic areas with shade, tables, water and stoves. Three shelter houses with fireplaces are available. Playground equipment is located nearby. Four miles of marked hiking trails – with a rating of "moderate difficulty" – wind through the site. Trail maps and interpretive nature trail pamphlets are available at the Museum desk. Picnic areas and hiking trails on the south side of the site may be used for cross-country skiing. NO BICYCLES ARE ALLOWED ON THE TRAILS.
Hours: Black Hawk State Historic Site is open year-round from sunrise to 10 P.M. When weather conditions necessitate the closing of the site roads, access is by foot only. The Hauberg Museum is open from 9:00 A.M. to noon and 1:00 P.M. to 5:00 P.M. March through October; 9:00 A.M. to noon and 1:00 P.M. to 4:00 P.M. November through February. Closed Monday and Tuesday and some major holidays.
Directions: 1510 46th Avenue, Rock Island, IL 61201; From I74, exit West onto John Deere Rd/ IL5 in Moline. Go West 4 miles. This road becomes Black Hawk Road/ 46th Av in Rock Island. When the surroundings change from commercial to wooded, the Watch Tower Lodge and Hauberg Indian Museum will be on the left.
From US 67/ 11th St in Rock Island, turn East at Black Hawk Road/ 46th Av. Go East 1 mile. The Watch Tower Lodge and Hauberg Indian Museum will be on the right. 1510 46th Avenue, Rock Island, IL 61201
Phone: 309-788-0177. Fax: 309-788-9865