Throwback Thursday 4/21/16: “Quad-Citians Have Been Bowling For 148 years”

“A while back, several older bowlers — yes, I was one of them — were discussing former bowling centers that had been in business many years ago. Someone raised the question as to how long bowling has been available in the Quad-Cities.

In reviewing my records, I realized that the game of bowling has existed locally for 148 years. It was in 1858 that the Rock Island City Directory listed a “bowling saloon” located between 19th and 20th streets on First Avenue that was operated by John Leinhart.

Coincidentally, the Davenport City Directory for 1858 also listed a bowling saloon. This business was located at 43 Brady Street and was operated by James Gallaner.

Such early bowling facilities likely consisted of one or two alleys and were for the enjoyment of each saloon’s customers. If any leagues were formed back then, they would have been unsanctioned. It was not until 1895 that the American Bowling Congress was formed. The Women’s International Bowling Congress came into existence some 20 years later.

A second question arose from the previously mentioned discussion. That query asked if it was known how many different bowling facilities have existed in the Quad-Cities. In research completed several years ago, I was able to identify 70 locations at which the game of bowling has been available. Today, the number of certified bowling centers is seven. Four are located in Davenport while three are in the Illinois Quad-Cities. In addition, the Davenport Outing Club has four non-certified lanes on its premises.

Bowling existed, at some point in time, in locations that were more rural than might have been expected. It was about 100 years ago that bowling was available in Blackhawk Park. Even earlier, there were bowling alleys on Credit Island, then called Grand Isle.

Alleys were installed at the Rock Island Arsenal during World War II to be used by its employees. Immanuel Lutheran Church in Rock Island had two alleys on its premises for use by its members.

Many area bowlers will recall such centers as Central Alleys, Bowladrome, Spectors and Topspot in Rock Island; Elks Club, LeClaire Alleys, Sixth Avenue Recreation and Playdium in Moline; and Rocket Alleys and Regal Lanes in East Moline.

Also, Midway, Hob Nob, West View Lanes, Hilson’s and Suburban Lanes served bowlers in Davenport, and Kimber Lanes and Plaza Bowl did so in Bettendorf.

All of these centers are gone from the bowling scene, but each was a vibrant business in local tenpin history.”

-Cal Whitmore
The Rock Island Argus
October 21, 2006

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