By Joy Neighbors
Dateline: August 1896
|West Baden Springs Hotel|
In 1896, Sinclair decided to construct the double decker bicycle track a few hundred yards south of the hotel. The oval track distanced one-third of a mile and was longer than two football fields – measuring 20 feet wide by 400 feet long. The cost of the project was estimated to be a whopping $10,000.
|Passing the Time|
Both levels of the track were lit with newfangled electric lights. The bottom floor was used for horse riding and pony cart rides. The center field of the track was not roofed and had a regulation baseball diamond lit by electric lights.
|Taking a Spin|
To Celebrate the New Bicycle Track
Only a cycler speeding by;
Only a maid with a witching eye;
Only a moment he waved his hand;
Only a smile so sweet and bland;
Only a stone so smooth and round;
Only a thud as he hit the ground.
|A Cleared Track|
|Baseball Practice Inside the Track|
Baseball games were played in the centrally located ball field by the home team, the West Baden Sprudels and the neighboring French Lick Plutos. Teams that came here for spring training included the St. Louis Browns, St. Louis Cardinals, Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs. The Cubs practiced on the field before they won the 1908 World Series – the most recent series win for the team.
But by the 1920s, America’s love affair with biking had fizzled and the wooden structure began to fall apart. The hotel's current owner Ed Ballard wanted the track torn down and went about getting estimates for razing the building, but Ballard felt the submitted bids were too high so he decided to let the structure fall in on itself.
|The Area Today|