Stone wall built during the Great Depression unearthed at Mishawaka golf course


MISHAWAKA – The newest water hazard on hole 16 of the Eberhart-Petro golf course had been in the works for almost a century.

What began as a project to repair a pipe that carried water from Willow Creek under part of the golf course unearthed what the city calls “a hidden treasure,” a pristine wall of stone built there. over 80 years ago by citizens during the Great Depression as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA).

Willow Creek was routed under the golf course decades ago via a pipe that existed in the creek bed and was covered with earth. When the deteriorating pipe began to collapse, causing sinkholes on the surface, crews from the St. Joseph County Drainage Board began repairs several weeks ago.

John Law, the county’s construction supervisor, said a task force found the wall that had been buried decades ago.

“There were WPA walls on either side of the bed,” Law said. “The mortar had remained wet.

Mishawaka Mayor Dave Wood urged teams to simply remove the pipe and return the stream to its original condition since the stone wall was built.

Last week crews excavated the creek bed and work was done all the way to the ends, but water started to flow back into the area and hole # 16.

“It’s historic,” Wood said of the WPA Wall. “These are protected and have historical status in the town of Mishawaka. I think we are responsible for educating the citizens on who built them. I consider them to be treasures.

The new Willow Creek Wall is just one of many WPA structures across town. The organization built streets, sewers, and recreational facilities throughout Mishawaka between 1935 and 1941, and the program put people who lost their jobs during the Great Depression to work.

Some of the other WPA projects in Mishawaka are the Battell Park Rock Garden, the Monkey Island Bridge, the Petro Park Entrance, and the many walls along Wilson Boulevard near the Saint Joseph River.

When the WPA was in operation, the federal government paid 90% of the labor costs for the projects, but the materials were left to cities and towns to purchase.

Wood said opening Willow Creek would actually improve flood control, as the open creek will now be able to handle more water than the pipe it once crossed.

He said the city was exploring plans to open up the creek more later this fall, possibly from a pond on the golf course to the river. It is hoped that the work will further expose the historic stone wall.

Ryan Weaver of the Mishawaka Parks Department is working on the area surrounding the newly discovered WPA Wall Wednesday on the 16th hole of the Eberhart-Petro Golf Course in Mishawaka.

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