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Water Ski Capital

The Water Ski Capital of the World

Nowhere else in the sport has had more records broken or inspired the continued evolution of the sport.  Water Skiing may have been invented in 1922 by Ralph Samuelson on Lake Pepin in Minnesota but Dick Pope Sr.’s Cypress Gardens transformed it into a global sport and entertainment phenomenon.  No other destination on the planet has the history, inventions, world firsts, world records and visibility than Florida’s first theme park, Cypress Gardens.

View our locations historic timeline here:


Featuring all nine disciplines of the sports, the Museum showcases memorabilia from the 100-year-long history of the sport, including a pair of sport inventor Ralph Wilford Samuelson’s original water skis.

LOCATION: 101 Adventure Court, Davenport, Florida.

A Daredevil & Two Boards tells the inspiring true story of the Minnesota small town man with big ideas who invented water skiing. On a hot July day in 1922, Lake Pepin fisherman Ralph Samuelson convinced his brother Ben to pull him up out of the deep blue waters of the mysterious Mississippi and into sports history. With two pine board strapped to his feet, Samuelson rose up to conquer the water as well as the skepticism of the local detractors who had been gathering at the river’s edge for weeks to “watch him drown.” War history author Gregor Ziemer tells the life story of the ordinary man whose unshakable faith enabled him to achieve the impossible – to walk on water.

Water Tower Art Welcomes Water Ski’s 100th Anniversary

If you’re a resident of Winter Haven or just visiting, you may have noticed the new artwork on the city’s Downtown Water Tower. So what’s the story? What was once a beige water tower at the corner of Avenue B SW and Magnolia Avenue is now a beacon to the upcoming International Waterski and Wakeboard Federation’s events in Central Florida!

Sporting a new logo celebrating Central Florida as the Water Ski Capital of the World and marking the sport’s 100th birthday, the painting of the tower is just one of many joint efforts between Visit Central Florida, the City of Winter Haven, and USA Water Ski and Wake Sports.