Milan, Illinois got its name from a watch factory that never existed! #TBT

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In 1848, the area around Milan was known as "Camden Mills." It was centered around Vandruff's Island, where Allied Stine Quarry is located now. In 1870, a promoter visited the area selling subscriptions to move a watch factory from Ann Arbor, Michigan. Investors here showed the most interest, buying stock and obtaining a site on Vandruff's Island. In June 1871, the community of Camden Mills changed its name to Milan to give the watch a European name. retro-quad-cities1The project was hailed as the "grandest project," with a four story building and promises to employ 250 people. It's opening date was put off several times, but on opening day there were 4,000 wagons, buggies, and carriages present. Everyone from the area came out to get the jobs promised to them. The problem? Managers never showed up because it was all a hoax! No watches were ever assembled in the building shown, but plenty of "player pianos" were between 1905 and 1912. The building existed on land, now excavated on the island quarry. retro-quad-cities3

Fast forward to 1948 and the annual Davenport Christmas Parade. This photo was taken on West Second Street.retro-quad-cities4

A brand new dam sits in the background of this photo which shows the Davenport American Legion's "Snug Harbor." This stood roughly the same area where the Rhythm City East Parking Lot is today. retro-quad-cities2

Finally, back to 1909. This is the scene at "Market Square" at 17th Street and 2nd Avenue in Downtown Rock Island. In 1874, only a few years after city water mains had been installed, a drinking fountain and horse trough were installed. Folks were pleased, but noted that the trough was too small. So the larger Market Square Pump Building was constructed. Since it was located near the docks, a lot of pedestrian and carriage traffic passed by the building. It was used for marketing events, such as those pictured in the photo. It remained into the 1920s, demolished completely when a new Sheraton Hotel was built in 1964.


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