After a one-year hiatus, the Doris Lundell Walking Tour will return next Sunday, September 22 with a look back at the history of Memorial Park.
The tour, sponsored by The Granite Falls Historical Society, will begin at 2:00 p.m. and end at roughly 4:00 p.m. with a cost of $5. Attendees are invited to bring their own stories and pictures to share amongst the day’s map-guided tour of Memorial Park’s history, which is sure to edify even life-long community members of little known facts about the beloved riverside setting.
“I sure learned some things I never knew before,” said historical society member Barb Benson, before cutting herself so as not to divulge the tour’s surprises.
While Memorial Park remains a frequently utilized community asset, many are unaware of the historical particulars that, according to the Carl and Amy Narvestad’s “History of Granite Falls,” are believed to have begun with the vision of veteran court reporter Olaf Nordbye sometime around the mid-1920’s.
The story goes that Nordbye was the first to see the site as an ideal location for a park. However, it was not until the setting was threatened to be turned into pasture that the Granite Falls Chamber of Commerce teamed up with both the American Legion and its auxillary to purchase the property, which was subsequently turned over to the city.
Dedicated in 1929, initial development was grassroots as volunteers cleared brush and trees, laid out roadways and made other improvements. The first water carnival, hosted by the Legion, was organized as a fundraiser for the park.
Later, during the depression era year of the 1936, Work Progress Administration (WPA) funds would help realize the park we know today, nearly tripling its initial size to 97 1/2 acres and allowing for the development of the bath house and picnic shelter, the ground floor of which was originally used as the site of the first local museum.
Benson, who frequented the swimming beaches of the park in 40s and 50s, said that the historical society, has hoped to use the tour as mechanism to capture and share the stories of community assets like the park while those who lived them are still around to tell them.
Next Sunday’s tour will begin with a presentation at the shelter house. From there event-goers will be given latitude to visit sites of their choosing, as some of the points of interest are at a distance and call for varying degrees of mobility.
In addition to learning and sharing, attendees can expect root beer floats. The historical society’s 2013 Christmas ornament, which so happens to be Memorial Park, will also be available for $15.
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