Alexander Field: Growing history
By City Times staff
The first installment of an ongoing series on South Wood County’s Alexander Field.
WISCONSIN RAPIDS – Alexander Field has been a presence in South Wood County since 1928. Managed by the city of Wisconsin Rapids and jointly owned by the city of Wisconsin Rapids, town of Grand Rapids, village of Port Edwards and city of Nekoosa, it has been growing history from its location at 3630 First Street South in Wisconsin Rapids for what is nearing a century.
The land on which the airport now stands was donated by John Edwards Alexander. What was once the Alexander cornfield later became Tri-City Airways and grew to become known as a first-rate airfield due to its east-west and north-south runways. At that time, many airports only had one runway and depending on wind direction, landing a plane might not be possible. With two runways, Alexander Field offered a venue that could accommodate the changing daily conditions.
“According to some of the history that I have found, it was merely a cornfield that was mowed off and just turned into a large landing area,” Airport Manager Jeremy Sickler said. “There was nothing paved. Aircraft like to take off and land into the wind, so it was just a large open area that the aircraft could land and take off in any direction.”
The airport was incorporated and had 16 shareholders, and the field was dedicated in July 1928.
John and his father, Lewis, owners of the Nekoosa Paper Company, saw an opportunity to accommodate their customers and realized what a great asset an airfield would be; and once operational, escorted their clients from the airport to the paper facility by company bus.
The Alexanders were known flight enthusiasts, and the company purchased a Ford Tri-Motor airplane capable of carrying 12 passengers. The plane was named the “NEPCO” and Major L.G. Mulzur was hired as the Alexanders’ pilot.
A hangar with a brick building was added for accommodating pilots and company customers.
A flight and ground training school also operated at the airport, with Mulzur overseeing the training.
But, an economic downturn in the newly industrialized country brought about the Great Depression and the end to flight operations at Alexander Field.
With only a few years in the venture, operations at the young airport ceased in 1932, and Mulzur purchased the “NEPCO” from the Alexanders.
Continued next week.