Monday, August 11, 2008

Duckpin Bowling History

Over the last few years, I have occasionally gone on a full-steam research foray into the history of duckpin bowling. I have managed to find a few things here and there that strike down some widely accepted versions of history. For instance, it is often mentioned that duckpin bowling never got farther west than the Mississippi River. However, I have found references to duckpin bowling centers in Washington, Montana, South Dakota, Minnesota, Kansas, Missouri, Nevada, and Chigago, Il. The farthest is a small center in Cannon Beach, Oregon. George has a photo of the historical marker on his Pbase page. The Cannon Beach Historical Society web site has the following mention of the location along with a photo of the building from the 1940's.

The Bowling Alley Site(1945)
115 Hemlock Street
At one time, this building was called Duck Pin Bowling Alley and Penny Arcade. Kids were hired to set the pins back up after customers knocked them down. After World War II, the Bureau of Labor rulled that children were not to work after 6:00 pm, ruining the business and focing it to cloe. In the 1950s, the building burned down.

[From Cannon Beach Historical Society]

In addition to Oregon, there is still an operating center in Potter, Nebraska that was originally built in the 1920's. It has 3 lanes and uses pinboys to handle the manual setting of pins and ball returns. It was restored by the Potter Historical Society several years back.

On Mackinac Island in Wisconsin Michigan, there is a duckpin lane in the venerable Bobby's Bar in the Woods Restaurant that they claim is the U.S.'s oldest operating duckpin alley. Nobody seems to know exactly when they were built but it is assumed that it was around the turn of the 20th century. Below is a photo from their website showing the lane.

There are also more recently opened and operating duckpin bowling centers in Indianapolis, IN and at Lake Tenkiller, OK.


  1. Actually, Mackinac Island is in Michigan. It's located on the Lake Huron side of the Straits of Mackinac.

  2. Stew: thanks for the fact correction.

  3. No problem...I love that place.