Capaha Park Lagoon Algae

Scott Moyers did a story in Tuesday’s Missourian about Capaha Park Lagoon’s algae problem. This isn’t exactly a new problem. Here are some pictures from the mid and late 1960s when there was a cleanup campaign on. I’m not sure when they were taken, nor who the subjects are. A couple of the men look familiar, but I’m going to let someone else put names to the faces.

Lagoon dates to early 1900s

Scott’s story says the 3.5 acre lagoon was put in shortly after the property was transformed into a fairgrounds. The city acquired it in 1914. Generations of Cape Girardeans have enjoyed fishing, ice skating, duck feeding and even jumping into the lagoon.

Lagoon has become shallow

Over the years, silt has filled up the lagoon to the point that it’s only about five feet deep, about half of the 10 to 12 feet years ago. Algae grows in warmer, shallower water, particularly when the summer has been as hot as this year’s. The lagoon hasn’t been dredged in about 20 years, the story pointed out. What makes me uncomfortable is a comment from Mayor Harry Rediger, who said that the permanent solution is to come from the parks department’s creation of a strategic plan for the entirety of Capaha Park.

“Another idea is to change the concept of the lake a bit.” he said. “I can’t report on it just yet, because it’s still in the planning stages. But we do intend to fix that in some manner – it’s just that how it’s to be fixed has yet to be determined.”

When city officials start talking about making changes to something that’s been a part of the community as long as Capaha Park, warning flags start waving. I look at all the park amenities that we grew up with: the lagoon, Cherry Hill, the band shell, the train from the cement plant, the pool (oops, guess we can scratch that one) and I don’t see many things I’d change. When you hear the drumbeats for “improving” Capaha Park, better start going to meetings and letting your voice be heard. We know how Bloomfield Road has been “improved.”

November 2011 aerial of Capaha Park

Broadway and Southeast Hospital are on the right. The pool is empty, but not razed yet.

Other stories about Capaha Park Lagoon

Gallery of Capaha Park Lagoon photos

A collection of photos taken over a period of time. Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.




16 Replies to “Capaha Park Lagoon Algae”

  1. If the mayor’s idea of “improving” the park is to fill in the lagoon, I think the citizens of Cape should string the man up by his heels from one of the light poles!
    It’s interesting to look back through the years, as shown in your photos, Ken. A picture truly is worth a thousand words. It’s great to have all this “progress” documented!
    I think I’ve mentioned it before, but some of these “improvements” in Cape constituted a good reason for my husband to insist that we move to Alaska in 1969. He just couldn’t stand to watch what was happening around us. He would be horrified to see what’s happened since then–with, of course, the destruction of Bloomfield Road being at the top of the list.

    1. I’m hoping they do the right thing. But we’ll have a better chance of it if we keep an eye on the planning process. Overall, Capaha Park has served the public well over the years with its present layout. Some rehab might be in order, but I’d like to keep the tweaks to a minimum.

      I’ve seen nothing that would lead me to believe that anyone would do away with the lagoon. There are way too many trees and too many feet of rope in Cape for that to happen.

  2. Ken, I don’t think its November yet… Maybe 2010?

    I can remember several times during my Dad’s tenure algae being a problem, thought that was cured by aeration. But as I recall its brought on by the heat of the summer/oxygen levels in the water. Could be way off base, as I was more worried at the time about running r/c boats there.


    As far as I’m concerned, its the Capaha in Capaha Park. I think its loss (the lagoon) would only created a path to the parks demise, as the pool is now gone. What would be left? Its the main attraction in my book.

    1. David,

      Anyone can take pictures of the Now. My camera looks into the future. So many readers were sad to see the Capaha Park Pool razed that I decided to bring it back.

      If only I could do the same thing with the money that used to be in my 401K…

  3. AWWWW! So many memories of the Lagoon. Lots of romantic walks around that lagoon. I’m sure many of those married baby boomers started out at the Capaha Park lagoon. Also a few friends thrown into it for a prank. Nasty algae! I sure hope they don’t destroy the lagoon. I don’t live there anymore so I can’t be at any meetings, wish I could. You know, when I was young, I was all FOR progress! Now I see progress as a destroyer of the places of memories. I guess the memories can remain in our minds but, doggone it, I like to go by there when I visit and pretend I am young again!Is there anything a former resident can do, besides leave comments at the Southeast Missourian? I already did that.

  4. i remember people ice skating on the lagoon,and sledding down cherry hill.i agree with the comment that since the pool is gone..what would attract people to the park.the band area needs seems so small and dated.the baseball diamond was redone.sad that the pool is gone. if i hear on the radio a song that was popular in the 60’s it takes me back to that pool.and all the fun we had.

  5. Darla, I was one of those thrown in as a prank in the late 60’s. That was after I had spent hours fixing my hair( the dippity doo took ALONG time to dry and the teasing almost that long, haha). Were you there that day? I wasn’t crazy about the algae, but I would miss the lagoon.

  6. I remember the time when the lagoon was drained and dredged out.After draining, the workers foung a large gar, around 40 pounds, in the lagoon. I guess that would explain why I never caught any fish at that place.

  7. BTW Ken, it seems everyone wants to try and invent a time machine.. Its no wonder someone has not patented the idea of a camera as a time machine.. cause it is.

  8. Our back yard backed up to Capaha Park when I was growing up, so all the neighborhood kids spent quite a lot of time in the park – unsupervised. Not something I would allow my children to do today in any park. Anyway,
    sometime back in the 50’s my dad was permitted to put his boat in the pond and treat the water with something for a terrible algae problem. I also remember the mounds of smelly mud stacked around the pond when they dredged it. Whatever they do, I certainly hope the pond is preserved in some way.

  9. I can assure everyone that we will not fill the lagoon. It is a focal point for the city and part of what makes this park so special. We are currently in the evaluation phase for the park with regards to current infrastructure such as utilities, parking, accessibility etc…….. if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at

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