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Oscar V. Babcock photographs

 Collection — Folder: SP054
Identifier: SP054

Scope and Contents

This collection includes photographs of Oscar Babcock in Indianapolis, Indiana in June-July, 1907 regarding Babcock's performances as a stunt cyclist at Wonderland Park, an amusement park on East Washington Street. Babcock is seen looping the "Death Trap Loop" on his bicycle in front of the Third Degree building at the park in front of an audience.


  • circa 1905-1930

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Biographical Note

Oscar Varley Babcock was a stunt cyclist who toured the United States in the early 20th century. He was born in New York on July 30, 1875 to Oscar and Harriet Babcock. Babcock raced bicycles before he began working as a stunt cyclist in 1904. He performed "Looping the Death Trap Loop" at Wonderland Park on East Washington Street in Indianapolis, Indiana in late June and early July, 1907, according to advertisements in the Indianapolis Star. He died in 1957 and was buried with his second wife, Emegene (Johnson) Babcock in Monmouth Cemetery, Monmouth, Illinois.

Sources: "Oscar V. Babcock." Find a Grave Memorials. Accessed July 11, 2019.

"Greater Wonderland" advertisement. Indianapolis Star, June 28, 1907, 14.

Halsey, Dick. "Oscar V. Babcock." Dick's Genealogy and History Corner blog, Augsut 17, 2016. Accessed July 11, 2019.

"Wonderland" aadvertisement. Indianapolis Star, July 6, 1907.

Historical Note

Wonderland Park was an amusement park opened on May 19, 1906 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Located East Washington and Gray streets, the park had a variety of permanent attractions, such as a scenic railway, simulated Johnstown flood, rides, games, a dancing pavilion, free band concerts, fireworks, a skating rink, arcades, restaurants, and a funhouse called The Third Degree. It also hosted a revolving lineup of stunt acts, exotic animals, acrobats, and vaudeville performers to draw the crowds.

Wonderland had several successful years before it was emroiled by controversy in 1909. It had opened as a "dry" park and the administrators' plans to open a beer garden stirred local mothers and temperance groups to fight back. The park was forced to back down from its plans. However, the park was suspected of illegally serving alcohol in the park's German Village, which was raided by police in 1911, though no alcohol was found.

Business suffered at Wonderland as the public interest in such places waned and it limited its operations to special events and group reservations. The amusement park, like so many others at that time, was "whites only." Wonderland opened its doors to African Americans on August 27, 1911 when it hosted the Colored Pythians on the last day of the season. That night, the park burned down, which authorities later believed to be the result of a discarded cigarette. Wonderland Park was destroyed and it never reopened.


Mitchell, Dawn. "Wonderland: The Coney Island of the East Side." Indianapolis Star, January 29, 2017. Accessed July 11, 2019.

Sunkel, Gwen. "Saturday in the Park: Wonderland Amusement Park." Accessed July 11, 2019.

"Wonderland Amusement Park (Indianapolis)." Last edited March 8, 2019. Accessed July 11, 2019.

"Wonderland Springs Up." Indianapolis Star, April 1, 1906, 29.


0.01 Cubic Feet (1 folder)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged by subject.

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as a donation.


No further additions are expected.

Processing Information

Collection processing completed 2019/07/11 by Brittany Kropf. EAD finding aid created 2019/07/11 by Brittany Kropf.
Oscar V. Babcock photographs
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

140 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 U.S.A.