During the Civil War this land was used as a mustering area (see the plaque in the southwest corner). The Franklin School was here from 1868 to 1913.
In 1912 the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad bought the land for a new train station and was persuaded to give the remaining land back to the city (with the proviso that it remain a park).
It was later named Howard Park in honor of Elmer A. Howard, a vice-president of the railroad.
The first train had arrived on September 1, 1858, a very important event for Fairfield (the original railroad station was at 6th Street).
The Burlington & Missouri River Railroad eventually became today's BNSF Railroad. Amtrak passenger service to Fairfield ceased on May 1, 1971.