Tracy's Pond Tragedy - Remembered
TRACY, COLE, FIREBAUGH
Posted By: Pat Ryan White (email)
Date: 12/15/2019 at 20:03:19
TRACY’S POND TRAGEDY - A PICTORIAL HISTORY OF MT. PLEASANT
Item 31 - Tracy's Pond and Boulder Lake. An islet in Tracy's Pond has often suggested the poetic name of Island Pond, and Boulder Lake is better recalled as Cole's Pond, two of the triumvirate of Romance, Tragedy, Recreation, Scenic Beauty. The third, "The K-Line", is no more. Its rail, ties and bridges are gone, only stretches of the old right-of-way remain.
The above picture of Tracy's Pond, west side of Broadway, was taken from the east. In the center of the pond is shown the "islet", and further on a glimpse of the student G.I. trailer camp, officially known as Merry Acres.
Tracy's Pond was created in 1877, or some 70 years ago by Mr. John W. Tracy, the father of Mrs. Mary Tracy Firebaugh of our town. The first indication Mr. Tracy had of a good water supply on his acreage was a soft wet spot about where the south bank of the pond stands. Mr. Tracy first sunk a well for domestic use and finding plenty of water, later decided to build a pond and engaged in the retail ice business.
He built an ice house with a capacity of about 2,000 tons. Two delivery wagons were put into service, and Mt. Pleasant's first ice business was started. Aside from sales at the ice house and on the delivery route, Mr. Tracy furnished the State Hospital with ice. Later the Hospital harvested its own ice from a pond at the rear of the group of state buildings. By 1884, Mr. Tracy had competition in the ice business, for W.R. Cole had created his pond, erected an ice house and his son Arthur, handled the business.
In the old days, swimming in summer, and skating in winter were enjoyed at Tracy's pond. But the tragedy on the evening of Nov. 7, 1884 closed Tracy's Pond as a recreation spot. On the evening of the tragedy, Miss Mary Tracy was having her high school class, and members of the high school faculty at her home, still standing just north of the pond. During the evening, seven of the group entered a boat on the pond and set out for a ride. Just what happened is not quite clear, but the boat was upset, throwing the occupants into the water. The accident occurred east of the islet. Two members of the high school faculty and two members of the senior class were drowned. Three others reached the little islet and were taken off to safety. From that date, recreation at Tracy's pond expired, too. Not that it was forbidden, but the picture of that hour of death was mirrored in every home in the community.
["Mt. Pleasant News", October 30, 1947, page 1]
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