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Days Gone By: Saved by a note

"Construction crew" at the Probst-Nelson farm: from left, front, Mary Jo Probst-Nelson and Gabe Schulberg; back row: Dan Nistler, Tyler Abel, Mark Trinastic, Pat Nistler, and Darrin Jasperson.

Mary Jo Probst-Nelson, daughter of Harvey and Bernie Probst, part of River Falls High School Class of 1970, wife of Dwight Nelson, mom of Jonathan Earl and Sarah Nelson, and now known as "Saver of the Arch," shared her story of rescuing the old shell arch that used to be situated on the south end of Ingram Center's lawn, facing Maple Street.

Mary Jo grew up on the west side of River Falls at 509 W. Division St., and every time she walked downtown she'd cut through the old hospital grounds (later site of Ingram Center, now city hall) and pass under a cement arch embedded with clamshells. She has many memories of sitting nearby on a fieldstone bench and enjoying a goldfish pond there.

In 2008 she was driving by the site as deconstruction for the future city hall was going on and saw the arch lying on the ground in three pieces, ready to be buried. She decided if she didn't do something right then a beautiful old piece of city history would be lost forever, so she tacked a note on the bulldozer begging them to call her before proceeding, promising she'd come get it.

Sure enough, at 7 a.m. the next day she got a call from one of the workers who agreed to work around it that day.

Gathering up her husband, a truck, trailer and backhoe, they managed to move the arch pieces to their farm on Cty. Rd. M, and a year later friends helped put it back together. It's now situated at the entrance to one of her gardens where it can be seen from her living room window.

Mary Jo says without the help of her husband, the construction worker who called her, Gabe Schulberg, Pat and Dan Nistler, Tyler Abel, Mark Trinastic, and Darrin Jasperson, the arch would have ended up construction rubble.