Community works to preserve farm’s legacy
By Jane Myhra
The public can now enjoy the serenity of a small farm outside of Scandinavia.
Located on the shores of Silver Lake, the land once owned by Carsten “Gunny” and Dora Jorgens now belongs to “this generation and future generations.”
Jorgens Park Preserve was officially dedicated during a ceremony on June 6.
A plaque was unveiled, with one side dedicated to the Jorgens and the other side providing information about the park.
Leading the dedication ceremony was Mitch Swenson, a member of the Board of Directors for Friends of Jorgens Park Preserve, which was formed in 2011 to preserve the 40-acre park.
Walking trails and a shelter have been added since the land was donated in 2007. The house was demolished, but the old barn still stands as a monument to the Jorgens.
Representing the Jorgens side of the family was Bob Jorgens, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, a cousin to Gunny.
He described the park as “a monument to the dedication and work (Gunny and Dora) put into this place.”
He recalled how his childhood letters addressed only to “Grandpa, Scandinavia” would find their way to the Jorgens household.
He said Gunny once told him, “After I’m gone they’ll bulldoze the buildings.”
“He never dreamed that this would be possible,” Bob Jorgens said. “Gunny and Dora would be proud that the community has made all this possible.”
“Carsten always told me he did not want houses built here,” said Dora’s niece, Kathryn (Whitney) Jensen, of Waukesha.
Her fondness memories were of Dora’s flowers and her recipes.
Although the land was donated by Carsten and Dora Jorgens, many people have contributed to creating Jorgens Park Preserve.
For his Eagle Scout project, PJ Hayes, with help from other Boy Scout Troop 631 members and parents, cleared the trails, built benches and made map posts along the trails.
“What a task for a young gentleman,” Swenson said.
Carl Lantz, president of the board, built the shelter, with some help from friends and family.
The cost of the 120-foot boardwalk was donated from the Iola-Scandinavia Elementary’s annual kindergarten rummage sale.
In cooperation with the I-S School District, the park is a designated school forest. Students recently helped plant trees in the area.
Many others have also contributed by mowing grass, clearing the land, and serving on the board.
Future projects include building a fishing pier, which will another Eagle Scout project.
When Carsten Jorgens died, he left his farm to four area organizations – Scandinavia Lutheran Church and Scandinavia Public Library, Iola Living Assistance, and Bethany Home in Waupaca.
Under the auspices of the Scandinavia Booster Club, a community-based fundraiser purchased the property from the four organizations for $250,000.
The fundraiser received $50,000 from the Iola Old Car Show, $150,000 from Chet Krause, along with other fundraising efforts.