GARFIELD PARK ... on Lake Wapogasset

If you are following the plans for changes at Garfield (Wapogasset) Park, you might be interested in some background on activity there in the 1800's ...

W.L. Sadler settled there in the mid-1860's and remained until about 1882.  A historical marker at the entrance identifies that it was the site of the Sadler saw mill and another that the Sucker Lake Post
Office was there from 1874 to 1880.  Who was Sadler?

Smokey Sylvester, local historian and storyteller, told that his ancestors and the Sadlers came from Green County.  Sadler was looking for a suitable location for a water wheel and his saw mill.  That
suitable location turned out to be at the Sucker Lake outlet.  (Sucker Lake was later renamed Wapogasset.)

W.L. Sadler wrote his own account in a newspaper article that summarized the history of Lincoln Township in conjunction with the nation's first centennial in 1876.  His account is reprinted in Polk County's
First Written History, recollections of each township prior to 1876, which the Polk County Historical Society published in l980.  He writes, "In the fall of 1865 your correspondent moved into the town and
commenced the erection of a steam sawmill at the outlet of Sucker Lake and built the first frame house in the town.  The mill sawed the first board on the 20th of June, 1966.  In December, 1867, the Sucker
Lake dam, which was used for the purpose of driving logs, was washed out and the mill went with it down the stream, leaving not a trace of where it had stood.  The following spring the mill was rebuilt and
water was used to drive it."  (Garfield did not become a separate township until 1886.)

A saw from Sadler's mill was found in the nearby water in more recent years by Clarence Delawyer of Deronda and donated to the Polk County Museum in Balsam Lake.  I understand it is a reciprocating
saw which moved up and down and is similar to the old hand-powered whip saw.  Sylvester's account is that John Marquand was the sawyer and that most of the lumber cut came from Pine Island,
subsequently known as Wallace's Island, and now the home of the Minneapolis YMCA's Camp Icaghowan.

A couple of weeks ago, an archaeologist found some old square nails just north of the Wallace monument at the Park.  Those nails probably came from the frame house built by the Sadlers.  Sadler's son,
Bill Sadler, who was interviewed for the Clear Lake Centennial 1875-1975 book, said that he was born in 1881 on the banks of Sucker Lake within 30 feet of the monument to Dr. Wallace.  W.L. Sadler and
his family moved in 1882 to Richardson where he had another sawmill.

The original dams probably consisted of logs, stumps, rocks and similar materials.  I don't know who built them but on March 19, 1878, Wisconsin's state legislature authorized W.L.. Sadler to erect and
maintain a dam across Sucker Branch for log driving purposes, provided that the dam did not raise the head of water to exceed six and one half feet in Sucker Lake.  Sadler was the Sucker Lake Postmaster
from 1874 to 1880.  He was also Justice of the Peace and performed marriage ceremonies.

                                                                                 written by JoAnn Hallquist - Amery

Excerpt from the Amery Free Press - August 24, 1911 issue

"Early last week a call was sent out to property owners around Wapagassett (or Sucker) Lake to meet on Saturday last at
3 p.m. at Unity settlement on Guanella's Bluff for the purpose, if deemed best, of organizing a Lake Improvement
Association.  In answer to this call eighteen to twenty residents about the lake came together.  Much interest and
enthusiasm was manifest.  It was heartily and unanimously resolved to organize such an Association.

A constitution and by-laws were adopted and officers, including an executive committee, were chosen.  The object of the
Association was defined to be to foster local interest and pride in the lake, local and popular interest in its attractions
and to enhance its beauty and usefulness as far as possible.

A mid-summer meeting is to be held annually, to which the women are to be invited, lunch served and the interests of
the lake fully discussed.

The officers elected were:
    President - James Wallace
    Vice President - A.S. Jerdee
    Secretary and Treasurer - Perry S. Jerdee
from "The Lake Scene" Reminiscing column ... 07-15-1984
                                                                             WE'VE COME A LONG WAY BABY ...

On August 19, 1911, eighteen shoreowners met at Ernest Guanella's Hickory Point Bluff and organized the Lake Wapogasset Improvement Association with Dr. James Wallace as president.

At that time the lake was called Sucker Lake (probably named such because the Indians called walleyes "suckers").  The Association didn't think the name too desirable, so Dr. Wallace wrote to
the U.S. Geographic Board in Washington.  At a meeting held May 1, 1912, the association considered the Indian name for the lake - Wakpuggaser.  The name had seven different spellings, so
the group decided on the current one Wapogasset and advertised the location at Deronda.

A dam had been built in 1878 with logs and planks.  Many problems accured with this primitive method, so by 1910 it was worthless for all practical purposes.  At a summer meeting in 1912, the
executive committee recommended money be raised for a concrete dam.  The shore owners voted 100% for the new dam.  They also pledged not to cut down trees on the shore.  The group
employed a man to remove rubbish from the lake front.

A control dam approximately 10 ft. wide was built with removable planks at a cost of $1,000 dollars.  Later, under the leadership of President A.M. Gottschald, the association constructed a
contrete spillway sixty feet long and an elevation of seventy-two feet.  The Public Cervice Commission ruled the lake level must be maintained one inch above the spillway.

In the 1940's Tim Yates and Leonard Moeller initiated state legislation that created the Lake Wapogasset Sanitary District.  Only 30% of the residents joined, so spraying the lake and attempts at
weed control were marginally helpful.

In order to make the lake accessible to the public, accesses and a park were established.  The land for the park was deeded to Garfield.  Ed Hogan built a pavilion and dance hall on the site, but
residents did not accept it.  It burned to the ground shortly after completion.  In June, 1942, a tornado destroyed the rest of the buildings, boats and trees.  Attempts to restore the park have been

Twenty years ago (early 60's) Len Moeller initiated the plan to expand the association to Bear Trap Lake.  The executive board changed the name to Lake Wapogasset Bear Trap Association.  The
goals and objectives were expanded to include social functions.

State lake conservationists concur that the Lake Wapogasset Association has been an aggressive and strong influence for seventy-three years.