by Joe Bachman
With a new $8.5 million dollar aquatics facility in the works for Witter Field, and the inclusion of a splash pad to Mead this summer, Wis. Rapids has often enjoyed the view by the water.
Built in 1913, the Municipal swimming pool used water from the Consolidated Papers dam that was delivered by a flume. This picture, taken in 1915, shows the youth enjoying the pool that brought swimmers of all ages to the 900 block of First St. North.
The pool, which measured 260 feet long and 85 feet wide, was broken into three sections. These sections were divided by logs which were reserved for different age groups and abilities. The pool came equipped with two diving boards and a slide.
This all started with a movement by John Aprin to create a safer aquatic experience for the youth of Grand Rapids. Prior to the pool’s construction, there had been an average of two drowning deaths per year, which was eliminated due to the upkeep of the new pool’s lifeguards. You may recognize some of the names of the pool commission that would keep aquatics in Wisconsin Rapids afloat — J.R. Ragan, George Mead I, and Edgar Douna.
In addition to a safer swimming experience, a life was even saved in June of 1922 by 13-year-old Boy Scout Rogers Garrison. While details are scant, his training helped him save the life of a swimmer from drowning that summer.
In early May of that year, the pool was dedicated and named what we know today as Legion Park.
While aquatics in the area may go through different looks and locations, it is a tradition that is a mainstay in Wisconsin Rapids. While none of us know what the future will hold for the area, it’s assured that a day at the pool will always fill a hot summer day.