History of Bacon’s Swamp


Michael Mates

The swamp behind the BCHS baseball field, currently known as Bacon’s Swamp, has a rich history of excitement and tragedy.

Albert R. Worm, member of the first graduating class of Shortridge High School, was an exceptional businessman who owned many slaughterhouses throughout Indianapolis. Worm first opened his butcher shop in 1894 on Oliver Avenue. Although he only earned 78 cents on first day of business, he was quickly making over $1,000 a day. Worm was quoted by the Indianapolis Star saying, “A man must hustle to keep pace with the growth of West Indianapolis.” Worm kept hustling and bought a house on Illinois Street in downtown Indianapolis. After a theft at his house, Worm decided to move his family into what was then the suburbs in the 1910s. He and his family moved into a luxurious house on Kessler Boulevard. Coincidentally, the pond adjacent to his new house was named Bacon’s Pond at the time. His children enjoyed playing on the frozen pond in the winter, as well as swimming in the warm water in the summer. Although there is irony in a butcher living by a swamp named Bacon’s Pond, the name originated in a different fashion.

Hiram and Mary Bacon, originally from Massachusetts, moved to the area around the pond in 1821. The couple met a fellow Presbyterian, Henry Ward Beecher, the brother to famous author, Harriet Beecher Stowe. Beecher enjoyed the outdoors and often visited Bacon’s Swamp, named after Hiram and Mary. It is rumored that the Bacon house and swamp played a major part of hiding slaves for the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. The 400-acre farm that the Bacon’s owned, is what is now Glendale Mall. In fact, Bacon’s farmhouse is in the exact location of where The Donut Shop sits today.

The name has been changed to Bacon’s Swamp, but is recognized as a lake by Marion County. It is located in between 56th Street and 58th Street, as well as Crittenden Avenue and Hillside Avenue. The lake sits 732 feet above sea level.

Even though the swamp has created happy memories, it has also been a site of tragedy. Steven and Dennis Reasner drowned in the lake Feb. 23, 1956. They were playing with a 5-year old friend, Susan Hennessey, who tried to save the boys, but also drowned. The guardians of the children filed a lawsuit against Dr. Daniel Bower of Kentucky and Peat Moss of Indianapolis on the claims that the owners of the property did not display the proper signs to alert the children of danger.

The pond now serves as the center point for the Northlake Apartments and some condominiums due south of the BCHS baseball diamond.