From 'little park' to 'Veterans' Park,' historian shares local history
Veterans' Park, as it's known today in downtown River Falls, was never intended to be a park, according to local historian Dan Geister.
"It was just considered the end of Elm Street," Geister said. "The first park in the city established was in 1898, Glen Park."
A Women's Improvement League was formed in 1900, and was active for at least 33 years. Most of the members were the wives of local businessmen.
One of their early projects was turning the area at the end of Elm Street into a park.
"They brought in a lot of dirt to fill the area in and also added a water fountain and flag pole," said Geister. "The first flag pole was wooden. This was done in the summer of 1904 and the cost for this was $500."
The Women's Improvement League members then included: Mary Pratt, Hattie Ensign, Mary Langdon, Eunice Thompson, Mabel Smith, Anna Wadsworth, Petra Norseng, Alice Hardy, Alice Weld, Clarissa Field, Adeline Forsythe, Anna Deneen and Mamie Farnsworth.
"The park early on was just referred to as park or little park - no real name to it," Geister said. "Other names for it unofficially were Ash park and Bum's park and perhaps others."
In the summer of 1930, a new 100-foot steel flagpole replaced the wooden one. Large confiders were added around the late '40s, Geister said, and an alley was paved for cars to drive through on the south side of the park.
"This look of the park lasted from then through 1992 when it was refurbished and named Veterans' Park," Geister said.
In 2005, River Falls Rotary gave Veterans' Park a big "facelift," bringing it, more or less, to its current appearance.