Park History

In 1921, fourteen acres of land were donated from the estate of Henry B. McCormick to Portage Borough with a restriction that it be used only as a park. In 1954, 32.21 acres of land were also donated from Rose Crichton; a widow of one of Portage’s pioneer coal operators, Mr. A.B. Crichton Sr. The donation of land was also restricted for use only as a park. Thanks to these two families’ generosity, Portage has a beautiful park to offer its citizens.

The park consists of a swimming pool that was completed in 1935 by the Civil Works Administration and in 1936, the original pool bathhouse was completed. In the 1940’s, additional improvements were added. Among those additions were road resurfacing, parking lot, new bathhouse with fencing, pool diving boards with lights, tennis and basketball courts, little league and softball fields, picnic tables and shelters that are available for rent.

In 1956, the entrance to the Park was named Verba Boulevard in honor of John D. Verba. In 1960, the Sonman Mine Explosion Memorial was relocated from Jamestown to rest inside Park.

In the 70’s, the Little Leage Field was reconstructed and lights were installed for night games along with a Pee Wee League field. Portage Brough Council received federal grant funding for four tennis courts and fifteen picnic tables. In 1973, the state of Rose Crichton donated another three (3) acres bringing the Park to a total of sixty two (62) acres.

In 1987, state funding was received for a drainage system, the playground was vastly improved, shelters rewired, new restrooms, and landscaping.

In 1990 the PA Department of Environmental Protection closed the pool due to design and location within the floodplain. In 1992, $500,000.00 grant funding was received for a new swimming pool with an architect to design it. In 1994, the pool was completed and reopened.

In 1998, Project Kids Place raised over $70,000.00 to create the new playground in the Park. Hundreds of volunteers helped to construct the play area and was completed in May.

In 2004, a Pirate Ship was added to Project Kids Place.

The Park is operated by the Portage Area Joint Recreation Commission that was created in 1991 by Portage Borough and Portage Township. The Commission is comprised of three members from the Borough, three members from the Township, and one member from the Portage Area School District.