Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Before Wallace Marine Park, Riverside Dip

Part of, or just north of, "Riverside Dip"
Wallace Marine Park has been in the news this summer. There has been the tragedy of drownings and the consequent effort to make life jackets available. There has also been the question of how much impact the Salem River Crossing and Marine Drive would have on the park.

In a history of Wallace Marine Park posted to the old City website, the City dates the park to the 1950s:
In 1956, Paul Black Wallace left 24 acres of prime riverfront land known as Wallace Marine Park to the citizens of Salem. Subsequent purchases and gifts have increased the size of the park to 68 acres. As specified in his will, Wallace's two daughters placed a white marble memorial stone at the park entrance in his memory and that of his life-long friend Joseph Albert. Formal dedication of the memorial was made in 1972.

Basic development of the park took place in the late 50's, soon after the Wallace gift.
While public ownership itself dates only to this period, there was activity here more than a generation before the park was established.

It turns out we have seemingly lost the history of an antecedent, an introductory chapter to the modern park.

A bathing beach at the base of the Center Street Bridge on the Polk County side was known as "Riverside Dip" during the late 19-teens.

July 31st, 1916

August 1st, 1916

April 5th, 1919
It was an initiative of the Commercial Club of downtown boosters. It seems to have struggled some despite the hoopla, and the fact that we forgot about it suggests it was not a success and did not persist. (Maybe there will be more to say later! It is also true that most initiatives of the Commercial Club and similar groups were not able to become sustainable on mainly volunteer efforts. The initiatives required institutionalizing, usually under public ownership.)

No comments: