Capitol Beach, a once popular recreation area near Lincoln, was the scene of memorable Independence Day celebrations, which featured a wide range of activities besides those usually associated with the word “beach.” The Fourth of July at Capitol Beach in 1907 was a “record-breaker,” said the Nebraska State Journal on July 5, 1907. “The line of railroad between this city and that resort was taxed to its capacity for handling passengers. During the rush hours fifteen cars were in service, running in trains of five sections each, each car handling fifty or more people.
“Attractions at the beach were not wanting. The regular amusements held a large crowd during the hottest part of the afternoon and evening, while boating, gun club events and ball games drew their share of the crowd. The wrestling match during the afternoon [C. L. Pryer of Des Moines vs. W. E. Hawes of Lincoln] drew thousands, the space about the platform being crowded. The wrestlers worked hard in the hot sun, and their efforts were rewarded with many cheers.”
One of the chief events of the afternoon was the baseball game between the “‘Q’ ball team from Omaha made up of employees of the Burlington freight department in that city, and the North Lincolns[. They] played a fast and furious game of baseball on an improvised diamond with tall grass and plenty of ‘hazards’ in the outfield, in which the score ran up to such figures that few remembered what it was after the game. The report that Lincoln won was not disputed, although the story that Lincoln won by a score of 23 to 19 was varied, some placing the number of Lincoln’s runs as high as 33. . . . The game was watched by many people who stayed to the end without shade or protection from the sun, which beat down mercilessly.
“The grounds were well policed, and there was no disorder. A sail boat turned over a number of times on the lake, and this furnished something to divert the attention of the afternoon visitors from the intense heat.
“The evening crowd at the beach found the weather more enjoyable. The car line was taxed until after midnight to handle the people, and the steady outward stream that started early in the afternoon was not lessened until late at night.
“Estimates of the number at the beach during the day varied from 10,000 to 20,000, many holding that the lower figure was much more nearly correct. At the office of the traction company it was thought that perhaps 20,000 fares would be collected on that line during the day and night, and that would mean 10,000 people at the beach. Many others went out in rigs, automobiles and on bicycles.”
Postcard view of Capitol Beach in 1911. From USGenWeb Nebraska Archives.