A closing for the next land acquisition at the Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park is set for December 17, 2013. The purchase will include approximately 140 land and water acres lying along the south and west side of the planned park – including a large portion of Bertram Lake. After months of work on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) pertaining to the development of the YMCA’s Camp Manitou at the park, the purchase is ready to move forward! The Wright County Board of Commissioners and the Monticello City Council, at their respective meetings, both approved the Fourth Addendum to the MOU and its exhibits on November 12, 2013, paving the way for the closing.
This acquisition will put the Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park at almost 640 acres, or over half of the total planned park area of 1,200 acres!
Find out more about Bertram Park by clicking here!
Cross country skiing is as popular as it ever has been and the Bertram Lakes property will again be a popular spot for the sport and related recreation. Yes, I said again. There was a time in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s when the property was the home location for an area club known as the Knickers & Kickers of Monticello
Cooperation between the club and the YMCA created 4 ski trails throughout the property. The first trail was the Bertram Lakes Trail which followed a track around the lake. The second trail started at the Chalet, followed around the east side of Bertram to the old Day Camp, then cut back and followed the Esker along the west side of Long Lake then back to the Chalet. The third trail went along the east side of Bertram then through the Day Camp, hooked up with the horse trail, followed it around the east side of Long, crossed over Otter Creek, then followed the north ridge back to the Chalet. The fourth was the longest trail going east from the Chalet, along the north side of Mud and First lakes, followed through the pine forest near County 39 and back to the Chalet.
A fifth trail was built through the Esker. This trail was known as the Short & Snappy Trail because of the constant up and down of the terrain. It lived up to it’s name.
All of the trails (except Short & Snappy) were groomed by the YMCA in the winter and brushed by the YMCA with the help of the Knickers & Kickers Club members in the summer and fall.
A large map of the trails and their lengths (in miles) was posted at the entrance for any skier who would like to use them.
It’s nice to know that in the future the Bertram Lakes Regional Park will again provide the opportunity for this sport.
And……. Yes….. I was a Kicker who wore Knickers.
Wild ginseng is a fleshy-rooted herb native to cool and shady hardwood forests of North America – Minnesota to the Atlantic and south through the Appalachian Mountains. It has been harvested extensively over the centuries and now is quite rare. Most ginseng currently is produced through commercial cultivation.
Early settlers of the Monticello and Bertram Lakes area were forced to supplement their income from meager crops by, in essence, “living off the land”. A sudden and extraordinary demand for this product in the 1850’s and 1860’s produced a temporary “boom” for the people of Wright County. In almost every town a “purchasing agent” was employed and cash promptly paid for every pound of ginseng brought in. Whole families would go into the woods and work for days gathering their precious commodity, often abandoning other important work.
Many citizens prospered greatly from this endeavor and turned a near destitute region into one of comparable wealth. It helped improve farms at a time when many pioneer families were struggling – especially during the Civil War when many young men were away fighting.
Eventually the trade dwindled but in the meantime agriculture advanced to a state where the ginseng trade was no longer needed.
The Bertram Lakes areas was important at this time and provided the ginseng necessary for many of the surrounding settlers to survive. The area between Bertram and Long Lakes was a primary location for the growth of ginseng.
Jim’s History Corner – A Plague of Locusts
The summer of 1856 was a critical time for the struggling farmer around the Bertram Lakes. They were beginning to turn the tough prairie sod into tillable earth for the production of such crops as wheat, oats and rye and found the soil rich and responsive. Through hard work and good rains, the crops of 1856 were in very good condition and near ready for harvest.
But nature, as always, has it’s own way of doing things. In August, a hoard of locusts (flying grasshoppers) descended on Wright County and in particular the Monticello area. They attacked the oats, stripping the leaves and left only the stems. The wheat, having grown stronger stems, had less damage but the immature seed pods were easy eating. The rye, being the hardier plant, was less damaged but still was left in unusable condition.
Because of eggs being laid during the devastation in August, the next spring the locusts returned and devoured the young crops. Because of the loss of both crops many settlers picked up and left the county. A few, however, turned their attention to other forms of farming, especially dairy, cattle and sheep.
The locusts eventually left and farming in this area became more stable and productive.
An Invite to a Guided Sunset Walk and Full Moon S’mores!
You are invited to a guided walk experience at Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park on Sunday, July 21st. The walk gives you the chance to see the park in a whole new way – after the park closes to the general public. The guided walk begins at 8:00 PM at the south regional park entrance. The walk route will wind along the west shore of Long Lake and then beside the eastern shore of Bertram, giving you the chance to see the sunset over the lakeshore. The tour will end back at the south entrance, where you can enjoy a s’more by the fire while watching a full moon rise over the treetops.
Friends of Bertram are receiving the first notice of this event, so be sure to reserve your spot for the walk and s’mores early! There is no cost for the event, but registration is required. Please note that the event will only be held with sun and moon-shine – no raindrops.
Email your registration for the event to: email@example.com
Within the last million years much of northern Midwestern USA was periodically covered by vast ice sheets (some 2.0 to 2.5 miles thick). Today, Minnesota’s surface features are mostly defined by the last (Wisconsin) glacial period which had four phases and ended some 10,000 years ago.
Formation and melt of such consecutive continental glaciers profoundly affected surface features of the land over which they moved. Vast quantities of rock and soil were scoured by ice from the original terrain and such abrasion redeposited as drift or till during glacial retreats. Till was dumped into preglacial river valleys while drift was carried further and heaped into hills (lateral or terminal moraines) at the margins of glacial lobes.
During meltdown, streams formed within ice sheets carried suspended material laterally (forming elongate eskers) or vertically (forming cone-like kames) which unlike moraine deposits contained few boulders. And outwash left by receding glaciers in central Minnesota was mainly of reddish sands or gravely shale (as is typical of much of the local Anoka Sand Plain). Depressions within these areas – in which ice chunks remained – became either fens or kettle lakes depending upon depth and how much water was finally retained.
Minnesota’s current preponderance of lakes represents a far different picture than in preglacial times when most of the land’s rain or melt water rapidly drained to the oceans of earlier eons. Today – precipitation retained at lake surfaces meanders through connecting streams with only a portion of it finally reaching larger rivers and a long-distance run to the Gulf of Mexico.
Bertram Chain of Lakes is now characterized by four lakes – Bertram. Long, Mud and First (each with a maximum depth of 30 to 40 ft) – fed, interconnected, and drained to the Mississippi River by Otter Creek; a sizeable wetland area to the E (Beaver Pond); a unique fen remnant W of Bertram; a stream-bisected esker ridge between Bertram and Long, and a kame hillside E of Long adjacent to 90th Street. These geologic moments, along with a more recent history of nine demised farmsteads and remnant native versus invasive biota, make this future regional park a mecca of teachable moments for schools in the surrounding urban areas.
Martyn J. Dibben, Ph.D. Chair, Bertram Chain of Lakes Advisory Board
Lakes area by squire acres (approximate)
1) Bertram Lake - 137 acres | Depth – 42 feet
2) Long Lake - 160 acres | Depth - 35 feet
3) Mud Lake (Middle) – 25 acres | Depth - 35 feet
4) First Lake – 14 acres | Depth - 37 feet
5) Beaver Pond – 18 acres | Depth - Varies
Otter creek flows into the west side of Bertram Lake from Birch Lake to the west. As it flows through the property, it is regulated by the dam at Bertram and by other sources of ground water plus water from Beaver Pond. It flows out of First Lake, through the Monticello Golf Club by Otter Creek Park to the Mississippi. Many local townsfolk often refer to Otter Creek as First Creek because it flowed out of First Lake. In the early years of Monticello, a grist mill was built by the Creek where it enters the Mississippi and for years was referred to as Mill Creek.
The Land consists of:
- 201 acres of tillable farm land
- 20 acres of pasture (horse grazing) but in the past it was used for sheep grazing
- 120 acres of pine plantation
- 170 acres of deciduous forest
- 200 acres Otter Creek, and miscellaneous (roads, building, etc.)
“Frontier Justice” wasn’t always limited to cowboy towns as seen in many old movies – it happened right here in Wright County.
Henry Wallace settled near Rockford in the spring of 1858. He cleared land to farm and built a log home. He was educated and reputed wealthy.
Oscar Jackson settled 2 miles from Mr. Wallace also clearing land and building a small home.
The two sometimes worked together during the summer haying season.
Early September a rumor spread that Wallace was missing and an ensuing search party found his remains in a clump of willow.
Suspicion was on Mr. Jackson and based on some evidence he was arrested and indicted at the next district court which was held in Monticello in March, 1859. The case went trial and in April 1859 Mr. Jackson, to the surprise of all, was found “Not Guilty”.
After leaving for a month, Jackson returned to Wright County and was arrested on a charge of larceny. While in custody (Monticello) an armed body of enraged citizens stormed the jail, took Jackson to Rockford, where he was hung at the Wallace farm.
News of Jackson’s death spread and other residents of the area clamored for the arrest and punishment of the “lynchers” or “mob”. One of the “lynchers” was arrested and jailed in Monticello only to be set free by the rest of the “mob” for fear of being turned in.
All of this forced Henry Sibley, Governor of Minnesota, to issue a proclamation “….in view of the fact that the civil officers of Wright County are perfectly powerless to enforce and execute the laws, I do hereby declare the said County of Wright in a state of insurrection…..”
Three separate groups of police or “Guards”, each numbering around 40, for a total of 120, were sent to Wright County, along with military wagons of arms and provisions to keep the peace and prevent riot and rebellion.
As a result “peace” was restored and the laws upheld.
Why do I write about this? because, the sheriff during all of this was our own George Bertram.