Marking a century
Briggs Woods Park celebrates 100th birthday with weekend events
When Hamilton County Conservation throws a birthday party for a park that’s turned 100 this year, they throw a party with events over the course of three days.
The oldest park in the county, the 60 acres of land for Briggs Woods Park was donated by Thirza Briggs Aldrich in memory of her parents, Ulis and Ellen Briggs.
On April 17, 1919.
Alice Heinrichs, of Webster City, is a descendant of Ulis and Ellen Briggs.
“It was his first-born that donated the land in their memory,” she said.
Heinrichs’ mom, Doris Adams, still shares memories of the farm and early days of the park.
“It brings a smile to my face,” she said. “My mom talks about how they would come to every Fourth of July to picnic.”
David Entriken, of Webster City, was in the Barn Shelter with a collection of old hand-powered farming tools that date to the era when Briggs Woods was still an active farm.
He’s not quite old enough to have used most of them himself.
“The scythe,” he said. “I’ve used one of those. I have one of those corn planters at home though.”
One of the scythes on the table in front of him had a long blade and a wooden frame that would catch the cut grain. Farmers of the era would then stack the grain to dry and come along later to thresh it or separate the wheat kernels from the stalks.
“It took a man to carry that scythe,” Entriken said. “A really good guy could do three acres a day. The average was two.”
Visitors to the barn could also learn about something else common to an earlier era.
A chamber pot, used to relieve oneself during the night without making the journey outside to the outhouse.
“It was called a ‘thunder jug,'” he said.
There were plenty of other activities Saturday to keep visitors busy. Nature hikes, a morning 5K run, cabin tours, a rededication ceremony, lunch, children’s games and a chance to try archery and tomahawk throwing.
Jayden Liebsch, 5, of Ogden, gave the tomahawk throwing a try.
“It’s hard,” he said. “But I hit the board.”
His mom, Jen Liebsch, gave it a try too.
“It’s harder than it looks,” she said. “They all hit the ground.”
She did not plan on investing in half a dozen hatchets and a target board at home.
“Absolutely not,” she said.
Ryan Holberg, of Webster City, a volunteer with the Border Brigade Archery Club, said getting the hang of it takes a bit of practice.
“Nobody is an all-star the first time,” he said. “You have to get a feel for the release. I’m not even that good at it.”
Chris Olsen, of Conifer, Colorado, was checking out the craft making with her daughter, Skyla Olsen, 9.
They were painting discs of wood that would become necklaces.
“I’m doing a little mountain scene,” Chris Olsen said.
“I’m doing the moon and the sun,” Skyla Olsen said.
For the Olsen family, who is staying in the campground for a family gathering, the birthday celebration gave them some additional fun activities to add to their family time.
“We didn’t plan this,” Chris Olsen said. “It’s an extra bonus.”
Shari Kelley, of La Crosse, Wisconsin, is spending the weekend in the campground too. She’s also in town for a family gathering.
Her children enjoyed the tomahawk throwing and she enjoyed a bike ride.
She stopped to rest a few minutes and took in the park.
“It’s beautiful,” she said.