It was in the early 1960s, while some of our founding members were curling at the Wagon Wheel Palace Ice Arena in Rockton, IL., that John Marling and Jerry Seidl persuaded Janesville officials to construct an outdoor curling rink next to the ice skating rink in Traxler Park. Along with a nucleus of curlers from Janesville and Beloit, they hoped to promote the sport in the Janesville area. The night before the promotional event, it rained and the rink vanished into the Rock River.
A second attempt to organize a curling club came late in 1965. The founders knew that they would need artificial ice and a large building to house both the ice sheets and the clubhouse. They found such a building ideally located between Beloit and Janesville. It was the Oscar Meyers Sales Barn. The cattle barn was much too large for the fledging club, but the founders had grand visions. Four rinks were laid out on the dirt floor where the animals had once milled about before auction. Members fitted together and laid plastic pipes. The men assembled the second hand ice-making machine and the women scrubbed the benches clean of bull and pigeon poop.
Members took out debentures and co-signed bank loans. The club grew and continued in this space until 1973. Finances were always an issue and energy costs soared. The ice was a challenge; when it was 10 degrees outside it was 10 degrees inside. The ice was so frosty it required the strength of Samson to get a rock in the house. In warm weather, the rafters dripped and made moguls on the ice. Frozen in the ice were pigeon feathers and worse from the pigeons that called the barn home.
After much soul searching the members looked elsewhere for rink space and decided to build rather than buy or rent. Together with the Janesville 4H organization, which needed more space in the fairgrounds in the summer, the Blackhawk Curling Club built a building large enough to house three sheets of ice and a clubhouse. Money was raised through auctions, luncheons and the infamous Sunspiel. Curlers camped at Camp Rotamer and ice was rented from the Janesville Ice Arena. Curlers came from all over the Midwest to this annual Labor Day bonspiel.
In the mid 1980s an addition was built onto the clubhouse, expanding the seating and kitchen area providing more room for hosting dinners and parties during bonspiels and other club events.
Through the years, the club members have donated hours of work and expertise to update and maintain the ice and the clubhouse. In 2012, the membership voted to purchase brand new curling stones from Scotland. This sizeable investment of club funds demonstrated the commitment of our members to the sport of curling.
Our club is in its 5th decade and enjoys a stable membership and healthy balance sheet. We owe much to all of our members who work tirelessly to ensure we have good ice, good times and Good Curling!
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