Once designated to be a jet fighter base, Richard Bong State Recreation Area is fittingly named after Major Richard I. Bong, a Poplar, Wisconsin, native who was America's leading air ace during World War II. The project was abandoned three days before concrete was to be poured for a 12,500-foot runway. Local citizens had the foresight to protect this open space for future generations. In 1974 the state bought the land and it became the state's first recreation area.