Riverside Park was conceived of, developed, and built by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) during the drought years of the mid-30’s, being completed in 1936. The project called for the development of 2.5 acres of pasture land along the bank of the Long Prairie River, near the intersection of Hwy 71 and Hwy 27 in Long Prairie, MN. Overall, the park encompasses a total of 7 acres. A dam was constructed on the Long Prairie River to divert water into a pond that would be used for swimming in the summer, and ice skating in the winter. The skating rink and track was about a half mile long.
The park was a welcomed addition to Long Prairie, providing employment during the hard times of the Depression. The park also contained a large 30×60 foot L-shaped field stone building constructed for the local Sportsman’s Cub, several log cabins for use by Boy and Girl Scouts and other organizations, and a 16 foot high field-stone observation tower. The park hosted many community events, including national touring ice-skating shows of the era.
The dry years were followed by several wet years and the park flooded often. By the mid 40’s the park had been almost completely abandoned due the flood damage, and little help was available to maintain the park as most of the men of the area were gone supporting the war effort. The park conditions continued to decline and was overtaken by the grasses and trees. These conditions contributed to Riverside Park being given the nickname of “Mosquito Park”.
Long Prairie Leader Todd County Historical Museum Minnesota Historical Society
Project originally submitted by Jeff Lucas on July 7, 2015.
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