- St. Cloud, MN
- Site Type:
- Swimming Pools, Parks and Recreation, Lakes and Ponds
- New Deal Agencies:
- Works Progress Administration (WPA), Work Relief Programs
- Quality of Information:
- Very Good
- Site Survival:
- No Longer Extant
The Works Progress Administration (WPA) built the Alice Whitney Park Dam on the Sauk River in St. Cloud MN in 1938. WPA workers also built steps going down the riverbank to the dam and a path along the river.
The dam was meant to provide a swimming hole for park users. The dam was about 4 feet tall and provided a walking path to get across the river, connecting Whitney Park and Sauk River Park. All of the stone and wood was cut by WPA workers.
The dam’s purpose was to raise the water level of the Sauk River to create a swimming area for the park which was safer than swimming in the unchecked river because the current was slowed down. Alice Whitney, an active community member, pushed the new dam because children would gather there and learn new skills. Mrs. Whitney believed providing a safe and welcoming environment for both adults and children brought the community together and created a sense of belonging.
The dam served its purpose for many years. With the advent of better and safer swimming areas, people stopped using the dam as a swimming hole. In 1950, flowing ice caused severe damage to the dam and little was done to repair it.. In recent years, the degraded dam caused the downstream banks of the Sauk river to erode. With the threat of contaminated water flowing downstream, the City of St. Cloud decided to demolish the dam in 2017. The deconstruction of the dam solved the erosion problems and restored the banks of the river.
The walking path and stone steps are still in use today.
For my history class I researched and located this site. The dam was something I found while searching through the news articles from the St. Cloud Times. I have attached the URLs to the news articles that described it. I also found the picture in a book that was used to showcase many of the WPA projects that happened around 1938.
Site originally submitted by Landon Mertens on May 5, 2023.
Additional contributions by Richard Walker.
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