The Fenelon Place Elevator first operated in 1882. The Dubuque of 1882 shut down every day from 12PM-1:30PM for residents to go home for dinner. Mr. Graves, a banker and promoter of mines who also happened to be a former Mayor and State Senator, worked below the bluff but lived atop the bluff. His carriage ride home would take 30 minutes. Coupled with the half hour ride to return to work, Mr. Graves would only have 30 minutes for his midday rest. This would not give him time for his dinner and a nap which he liked to take. Having seen inclines in Europe, Mr. Graves thought constructing one would be the solution to his problem. Local engineer John Bell was hired to design the incline.
The incline burned in 1884. Initially for private use, Mr. Graves opened it to the public after it was rebuilt. After another fire in 1893, community members rebuilt the incline after sourcing ideas at the 1893 Columbian Expedition. In 1977 the cable cars were replaced and more modern gear was installed.
Today, visitors enjoy a historic ride and a marvelous view. We visited on a clear day and were dazzled by a spectacular view of Dubuque and the Mississippi River. Illinois and Wisconsin can be seen as well.
Two cars carry passengers up and down the bluff elevating passengers 189 feet. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the elevator functions April 1-November 30. When you visit, also check out the neighboring shops including an ice cream and chocolate shop and Midwest Girl selling shirts Made in the U.S.A.