Knights’ Pool

On the Eau Claire River

Frank Arnold Knight Sr. was born August 10th, 1855 in Winneshiek Iowa, the son of Benjamin Knight, Silas Knight Srs’ brother. It is unclear as to when Frank Knight migrated to Wisconsin or built a cabin deep in the woods along the Eau Claire River but whatever the year, this area where the cabin was built surely was deep wilderness at the time. The location he selected is a very interesting area wherein the river transitions from deep rock lined rapids to an expansive river, smooth flowing, with sand banks. A dramatic transition between two unique worlds. The rocks that line the river at this location are unusual, so much so in fact, that this was the subject of a research document comprising an analysis of the area geology. This research document remains available here through the University of Wisconsin.

Below the last rapids of solid layers of stone, just as Channey Road crosses today, the river expands into a wide and deep pool, almost a lake in its appearance. Its’ likely formation was the funneled high water of the rock channel driving water and ice  into the newly encountered sand landscape, scraping out a deep and wide basin. This broad expanse of water, with Frank Knights cabin only a few feet away became known over time and still remains referred to as “Knights’ Pool”. A satellite image and link to the geology report published by the University of Wisconsin, Madison, provide an interesting description and an excellent way to locate this area for a visit.

Knights’ Pool On the Eau Claire River
Knights’ Pool On the Eau Claire River

In our family a story has been handed down by a number of family members regarding Frank A. Knight and his perhaps unfortunate demise. This story was related to me by my dad, Bayard C. Knight and was also passed along by the direct descendants of Frank Knight. It seems that during December 1927 Frank Knight passed away seated in a chair on the front porch of his cabin. His cause of death will perhaps forever remain unknown, but it is certain that in the dead of winter in northern Wisconsin, the temperatures were surely daunting. The weather was colder then and December at that time and place was a time of plunging temperatures with -40 below being an all too common occurrence. These severe temperatures remained through my childhood, leaving indelible memories of close wrapped skin and gaining your breath only through layers of clothing, scarves, and gloved hands.

The exact date of his death is perhaps an estimate in that, living alone, his death was not discovered until a visitor made the journey to his cabin and encountered the discovery. However, any attempt to approach the cabin was thwarted in that Frank had kept a very large cat of some unknown specie and the cat would not allow anyone to approach the cabin, or Frank, in its’ fierce defense of its owner. In the end it was necessary to shoot the cat in order to approach the cabin, and after much consternation, knowing how Frank valued the animal, that is what transpired. Frank Knight was taken away by his family and buried in Augusta, Wisconsin.

I began visiting Knights Pool with my dad, Bayard C. Knight, in the early years of the 1950s. With our endless enthusiasm for fishing and a home made canoe we went there quite often, dividing our time between fishing and searching for artifacts from the cabin. To find something was to relive part of Franks life.  It was very exciting for a small boy at that age. The road at that time was barely a passable trail, wending many files into the woods, and the area still a wilderness with no other signs of settlement. It seemed a mystery to me at the time why someone would choose to live so far in the wilderness, completely alone and remote. But, to my dad it seemed obvious, “you could see things there you couldn’t see anywhere else” he would say. That seemed to be a recurring theme in my family.

Below is a geology document about Knights’ Pool, which includes several topographical maps, the pools’ location, features, and makeup.

Knights Pool Geology
Knights Pool Geology