A swimming pool was built along Connelly's Run in 1929 and the area became the first city park. In 1930, the city held a competition for naming the park. A student from Radford's State Teachers College, Alleen Carper, won $25 with the name of Wildwood Park. In September 1999, in celebrating the 70th anniversary of the park, the City, Radford University and Pathways for Radford recognized Mrs. (Carper) Hughes with a luncheon and keys to the city. Her story was printed in The Southwest Times on July 25, 1999.
The pool, picnic area, playground and pavilion built over the original bath-house provided a community meeting place and helped unite the youth of the two parts of the city. The pool was filled each week with water from Connelly's Run and was freezing cold. To help warm the water, the Recreation Commission removed all the trees from the hill west of the pool. The Commission twice closed the pool early in the season because of polio epidemics in the area (Cord, 1954).
The Park was closed and the pool was filled in with dirt. Today, the area is covered with vegetation and all one can see of the pool is a concrete wall along Connelly's Run. Later, Bisset Park became the City's main recreational facility.
During World War II, boy scouts removed a metal bridge across Connelly's run to use the metal in the war effort. They replaced it with a wooden bridge.
After its closing, Wildwood park continued to be used for hiking with minimal city maintenance. Various gardening organizations and Radford University classes periodically restored trails, bridges and plantings. The flood plain was mowed. A sewer line was put in paralleling the creek.
In 1998, newspapers reported that the City was considering the construction of a two-lane road through the park for car and truck traffic to pass through the City. Some citizens were concerned that vehicle traffic would destroy the peaceful ambiance of the park and would make it unsafe for children and educational groups. In addition, the Park is an oasis for wildlife in the New River Valley. Eventually, under the leadership of Mary Hall, some of those people joined forces with other citizens who wanted a network of bikeways and walkways through the City. The group, Pathways for Radford, has been working with uniformly enthusiastic City officials to plan the revitalization of Wildwood Park.
Boyd, C. Clifford, Jr. and Dona C. Boyd 1997 Osteological comparison of prehistoric Native Americans from Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee mortuary caves. Journal of Cave and Karst Studies 59(3):160-165.
Cord, Ruth Graham 1954. Ten Years of Organized Recreation in Radford, Virginia. M. S. Thesis, Virginia Polytechnic Institute. 532 pp.
Johnson, Elmer D. (Ed.) 1975 Radford Then and Now: A Pictorial History. American Bicentennial Commission of Radford Virginia. 77pp.
MacCord, Howard A. Sr. 1982 An archeological reconnaissance survey of portions of the
Pepper's Ferry wastewater treatments system in the City of Radford and counties of
Montgomery and Pulaski. Report prepared for Olver, Inc., Blacksburg, VA.
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