We’re happy spring is here and we need your Spring Photos for our Capture the Seasons Photo Contest! Please visit…
Mark your calendars for Spring Cleanup at Bertram ~ Volunteers Needed! Will meet at the South Entrance parking lot at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 2nd. Email for details at firstname.lastname@example.org. ☼
In the previous tidbit, Farms II, I mentioned that the farmers who owned and operated the Bertram Lakes land were stewards or “trustees” of the land. As we enter the final stages of the purchase of this land, we must remind ourselves of this stewardship. I recently came across a quote that is very fitting for us. It reads as follows:
As we enter our own stewardship, let us remind ourselves that we need to preserve, protect, and improve when we can so that future generations can enjoy the land also.
The First Annual Photo Contest was a Success! We received over 60 entries in 5 categories. Many amazing photos were submitted and the judging was extremely difficult but the votes are in and the winners have been announced! Shown below are the winning photos. Click on the tabs in the drop down menu to view all photos submitted in each category!
Thank you to all who participated in this event. We love your photos and are looking forward to making this an annual event!
A $3.8 million, 164-acre acquisition successfully closed on June 5, 2014, bringing the park total to 721 acres. The purchase was made possible with $2.2 million in grant funding and additional match funding from Wright County and the City of Monticello.
The next acquisition of 80 acres is slated for 2015. The estimated cost is $2.3 million with $1.4 million coming from grant funding.
With the closing of the latest acquisition, the county and city will now own the beach at Bertram Lake and the 12-acre parcel where the YMCA intends to build its new Day Camp Manitou. The YMCA will operate Camp Manitou on the county and city property through the end of the 2014 season and will transition over to their new camp for the 2015 season. The county and city will look into the options for opening the beach to the public after day camp hours. There are many issues that need to be resolved prior to opening the beach; therefore, it is assumed the public opening of the beach will commence in 2015. Furthermore, the city has secured grant funding to begin Phase I of the Athletic Complex sometime in 2015.
Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists (MORC) will continue building the single track mountain bike trails in the park this summer. Currently MORC volunteers are working to reroute and rebuild a 10-mile mountain bike loop open to non-motorized use; however, it is expected that the trails will grow to 14 miles. MORC volunteers work on the trails in the park on Wednesday evenings through the summer. Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park is the one place in Wright County that offers mountain biking. The trails are signed and bikers are encouraged to test out the trails. The topography is fun to ride and there are a lot of great switches, so there can be challenging parts!
Once Bertram reaches its planned 1,050 land acres (1,200 acres including water bodies), it will become the largest regional park in Wright County!
Thanks to the hundreds of folks who came out for the
1st Annual Monticello Winter Block Party
Friends of Bertram Snow Sculpting Event!
Although it was a bit chilly, there were four snow sculptures carved on the front lawn of the Community Center and lots of warm conversation and fun inside the building.
Snow sculptures were judged with cash prizes going to
1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners!
Kids snowman building contest winner received an
MCC Gift Card and Certificate!
This was a great event for introducing and updating the Monticello Community on the growing park and its activities.
Hope to see you next year!
George Bertram was one of the founders of Excelsior, Minnesota, a town known for its history, both Native and Current.
But, what motivates a person who has become comfortable in the largest city in the United States, to gather his family and move to the “frontier”?
We cannot look inside the mind of the man but we can look at some of the historical events that may have influenced his decision.
1) The Traverse Du Sioux Treaty of 1851
As mentioned in a prior Tidbit, this treaty ceded to the United States Government most of the land of the current Minnesota from the Sioux. In so doing, the land was open for claim and settlement by the citizens of the United States. George must have seen this as a great opportunity, especially considering his religious views.
The era from 1825 – 1850 was a time of renewal and re-creation for religions in America, although the northern states still kept the basic community concept established by the Puritans and the Pilgrims. This concept held the belief that the community of the people and their faith was one and the same. George Bertram believed this and it was instrumental in his vision of Excelsior and eventually Monticello.
In the 1840’s two events were to affect George Bertram’s life. One was an expansion (railroads) and the other was an invention (sewing machine). Railroads (mostly privately owned) began opening up the frontier for settlement and George saw this as an opportunity to make his “dream” to create a new society come true. Couple this with Elias Howe’s invention of the sewing machine and he saw his chance. Remember, Bertram was a tailor and with the new sewing machine finding its way into the homes and factories, his livelihood was being threatened.
In 1952 Bertram made his way west, eventually landing in St. Anthony, Minnesota. From there he traveled west by ox cart and then boat to the west side of Lake Minnetonka where he made a government claim to 160 acres of land, later to become the city of Excelsior.
Upon his return to New York, Bertram began working on his plan to establish the Excelsior Pioneer Association and spent the winter of 1852-53 soliciting memberships. To be a member, the initial fee would be $8 and $1 per week dues for the next 8 months. Each member (male), self or family, was to be provided with a farm and one village lot of not less than 1 acre, selected by a drawing from the 160 acres.
In 1853 the Bertram’s arrived and built their home. George became the first president of the new “association” and church services were conducted in his home.
But, for various reasons that were speculated (religious, leadership, conditions, $, etc.) the Bertram’s moved back to St. Anthony in 1854. The town of Excelsior survived to become a thriving vacation spot for many years to come.
The following quote appeared in the Minneapolis Farmer’s Union paper on April 5, 1873, edited by Col. J. H. Stevens:
“I sent you a few seeds of my Mammoth Squash. I raised it last year, and had it on exhibition at our county fair. It was far ahead of anything of the kind that had ever been seen here. It weighed 142 pounds, measured 6′, 7″ around length-ways and 5′, 9″ around over the top. The color was sage green, deeply ribbed and finely netted all over like a nutmeg melon. The flesh was from 6-8″ in thickness, and of a deep orange color. I baked some in the oven, and it was the sweetest squash I ever tasted. Everyone who saw it wanted seeds, so I have put them up in papers and am selling them. I got about 600 seeds from the squash. I was sorry I had not sent it to the State Fair. I heard there was one there that weighed 140 pounds. I think this is the largest one that has been raised in the State. I was going to call it Minnesota Mammoth Squash, but thought I would give the name to Wright County. We can raise as big things here as anywhere. There will be great strife in raising big squash up here this year. All who can get seeds are going to try. This package I send you is the only one that will leave the county, except one I send to a friend of mine in New Jersey. Let us hear what you can make out with it.
Geo. M. Bertram.
Monticello, March 17,1873”
Note: Besides being a tailor by trade, George Bertram, along with his wife, Julia, were avid gardeners who grew much of their own fresh vegetables and fruits.
The YMCA’s interest in the Bertram Chain of Lakes land first came from donations/purchases by the Lehigh Cement company which owned land on the east side of the lakes, including First Lake.
During the next 15 years (from 1952-1967) neighboring farms were bought up as they began to cease operations. Most of these farms were small one-family operations of dairy, small grain, sheep and cattle and provided a life for these families for almost 100+ years (from 1850-1950+).
These farms were purchased one at a time until the current land area of the Bertram Chain of Lakes was created. All together there are nine (9) farmsteads that can be located on the land, several of which have old foundations and other remains to show where they were.
In the future when all of the land has been purchased and the entire natural area of the park is open to the public, these farmsteads will be marked showing the last two farmers/owners of the land.
Several of these farms produced some specialty crops:
- The corner of Briarwood & 90th Street (horse pasture) was originally a field where sheep were raised for many years. They produced wool, mutton & chops.
- Inside the south entrance and just southeast of the parking lot was the site of a very specific crop; this was the site of a mink farm. The pelts of the mink were used for coats and stoles. Changing attitudes led to its demise.
- Rumor has it that there was a celery farm located near Long Lake but the specific location has not been found.
- Of course,m the YMCA used the land to farm Christmas trees for sale in the cities. Several of the areas are still in existence today but will be redone in the future.
We must be sure to remember and celebrate these early stewards of the land!