City of Madison

City of Madison Engineering | Photo Credit: Archie Nicolette

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General and Historical Information

Aerial Photo Warner Lagoon

Warner Lagoon is a 28 acre, shallow, man-made lagoon that is hydraulically connected to Lake Mendota by a 72-inch concrete pipe on the western edge of the lagoon. 

The lagoon was dredged in an area known as Castle Marsh.  The marsh was created when the construction of Tenney Locks, in 1912, raised the water levels of Lake Mendota by approximately 5 feet.  Prior the installation of the locks, the area was low-lying farmland. 

The lagoon was constructed in the late 1950's and early 1960's by the City of Madison in conjunction with the Department of Natural Resources. It appears the lagoon was developed for a variety of reasons, including:

  • To increase recreational opportunities,
  • To create additional park land
  • To protect Lake Mendota from storm water runoff from recent development

Over the years, not only has the water quality deteriorated in the lagoon, but the lagoon has become an asset to the community in its own right.  Therefore, the City and others are exploring ways to potentially improve the lagoon and its immediate surroundings. 

This article by Trish O'Kane on the Wild Warner Park website provides more background on the history of the lagoon.

The following aerial photos show the development of Warner Lagoon at various stages. 


1937 Aerial Photo of Warner Lagoon (Thubnail)


1950 Aerial Photo of Warner Lagoon (Thumbnail)


1968 Aerial Photo of Warner Lagoon


1975 Aerial Photo of Warner Lagoon


1986 Aerial Photo of Warner Park