After my parents divorced in 1973, my dad and I moved to Sigourney, Iowa, where he began working behind the meat counter at the local grocery store. We lived in Sigourney from late summer/early fall 1973 until May 1974, when he married my stepmother. Since her family was from the Sigourney area, we’d return there once or twice a year, usually in summertime.
One of our travel destinations during summer was the county park, home of Lake Yenruogis (Sigourney spelled backwards). Throughout the 1970s, the county allowed swimming at the lake, which is why we went there. At the time, the lake featured a beachfront of dark sand/pea gravel.
Along the shore of the lake, to the south of this beach area, at a distance of perhaps 50 to 75 yards, there was a wooden platform elevated about 10 to 15 feet above the murky water that you could jump off of. As a kid, I was always fearful to take that plunge, but my dad and his brothers-in-law would do it, often diving from it.
Sometime in the late Seventies, my dad quit jumping off the platform completely after hearing about an incident that allegedly occurred at the lake, shortly before our summer visit.
Supposedly, some unknown vandals had visited the park during the night and carried a picnic table from a nearby campsite down to the platform and dumped it off into the lake. Settling under the water, the table hadn’t been visible from the platform, due to the lake’s murkiness.
The next day, some swimmer dove off the platform and struck his head on the top of the submerged table, breaking his neck, leaving him paralyzed. Since we lived 130 miles away and out of state, we weren’t privy to local news, apart from hearsay, so details about the incident were communicated to my dad in that manner.
We never found out who the paralyzed swimmer was, or exactly when this had happened, so, for all I know, some, or all of it, could have been exaggerated. I haven’t been able to find any old news articles on the incident, but I’ve never forgotten the story.
The last time I swam at Lake Yenruogis was perhaps the summer of 1982. When I researched the Sigourney area a few years ago for a possible road trip with my wife and son, I discovered that the county no longer allows swimming in the lake, only fishing. I’m unsure when this changed, but I’m sure it has to do with liability issues; I don’t remember there ever being a lifeguard on duty at the lake.
Looking at recent satellite photos, I noticed the lake’s a lot clearer than I remember it being, likely due to its status as a fishing-only location.
The beachfront area looks overgrown now and the diving platform appears to have been removed, but I noticed something in the general vicinity of where the platform used to stand:
A rectangular shape, which appears to be under the water’s surface, just off the shoreline:
Since 3D Earth view is unavailable for the lake, I can only speculate what the shape might be. Perhaps nothing more than part of the foundation for the former diving platform. If the aforementioned diving accident really occurred, I doubt the submerged picnic table would have been left in place below the platform.
That said, seeing the mysterious rectangle on the satellite image brought back a memory I’d long since forgotten.