LOST: Blazer Park in Golden Valley

Blazer Park, also known as Golden Valley Roadside Parking Area, was a 3-acre Lilac Way park. It was located on the west side of Highway 100, between Highway 55 and Lilac Drive North. It was dedicated in 1939.

In 1997, MnDOT’s Lilac Way structure inventory labeled Blazer Park as ‘intact/slightly altered’ before it was razed for road construction.



Blazer Park, 1939. View of park. Photo: MnDOT
Blazer Park, 1939. Waterfall. Photo: MnDOT.
Blazer Park details
  • 3-acre park, also known as Golden Valley Roadside Parking Area
  • Located on a hilly site, was planted with 300+ lilac bushes
  • Curbless, asphalt-paved entrance drive entered park from south or northwest corner
  • Original entrance from Highway 100 near entrance sign was closed in 1968
  • Asphalt-paved rectangular parking area, curb, guardrail, and Highway 100 shoulder on east side of park
  • Original plans specify that east edge of parking area be lined with rock wall
  • Grassy oval at center of park, between parking area and drive, at highest point
  • Groups of mature lilac bushes throughout, as well as mature ash, oak, spruce, and other trees
  • Long lilac hedge ran along west side
  • East edge of parking area was reduced in size, early plans included a rock wall
  • When created, site extended south to Minneapolis, Northfield, and Southern Railroad tracks
  • Park lost acreage when circular island at south entrance was removed for Lilac Drive North
  • Property demolished (stone stored for reuse); razed as part of Highway 100 reconstruction
  • Also known as the Golden Valley Roadside Parking Area
  • Located on W side of Highway 100 between Glenwood Avenue and Highway 55, bordered by 100 on the N and E sides, Lilac Drive on S, and Turners Crossroad on the west
  • Driveways entered park from Lilac Drive and Turners Crossroad, converged on a parking area near the W side
  • Dedicated on May 28, 1939
Historical info
  • One of seven original Lilac Way parks
  • Designed by Arthur Nichols, Landscape Architect
  • Built by Works Progress Administration (WPA) as part of one of Minnesota’s largest federal relief projects, 1934-1941
  • Hand-built by unemployed men during Great Depression
  • Significant in the state’s history of transportation
  • Determined ineligible for National Register status
Take a tour of the former Blazer Park in April, 2021

It is quite overgrown, no structures remain. All of the structures were demo’d for highway reconstruction in the early 2000s.

There were a few loose limestone pieces, lots of buckthorn and damaged/diseased trees, and a Killer Guard Cat who caught and ate a mouse right in front of Karen to show that HE owned this park now.

Blazer Park had stone fireplaces with tall, tapered chimneys. Hand-built by unemployed stonemasons hired by the WPA.

They were made of tan, random rubble limestone with brick-lined fire boxes.

Here’s how MnDOT described the sad state of Blazer Park in 1999.

Thanks to the St. Louis Park Historical Society for finding this info.

“Although Blazer Park is less elaborately designed and less intact than Graeser Park in Robbinsdale, it retains a number of key design elements. The vegetation continues to reflect the original landscape design, which had a naturalistic layout that offered shade to visitors and buffered the picnic areas from the surrounding streets.

The park reflects the design concepts of the landscape architect Arthur Nichols, while also representing the work of the state’s WPA craftsmen, who often used native stone to fashion park buildings and other structures. Thus the park expresses environmentally sensitive, naturalistic designs, highlighted by indigenous vegetation and rustic limestone architecture.

The City of Golden Valley does not identify Blazer Park as a park in its comprehensive land use plan. In general, the park has been neglected and receives minimal use because it does not provide specific recreational facilities.”

“According to Golden Valley’s Park Superintendent, Blazer Park is, in fact, a source of resident complaints because of its condition. The city removed several deteriorated benches several years ago because of concerns that users could be injured.

Access to Blazer Park is provided by foot or automobile. The entrances are on the south and northwest ends of the park (away from Highway 100). Lilac Drive crosses under 100 just south of the park and provides pedestrian access to the park from the east side of 100.”

Blazer Park, 1946. This Minneapolis Star news article details complaints from Golden Valley residents.

What did the WPA build in Blazer Park in 1939?

Blazer Park, 1939. Tapered fireplace. Photo: MnDOT.
Blazer Park, 1939. Tapered fireplace. Photo: MnDOT.
Tapered stone fireplaces
  • Two tapered fireplaces
  • Near southwest corner of park
  • Fireplace One:
    • Built of tan and red, random ashlar, roughly cut limestone
    • Rectangular structure with 8′-tall tapered chimney of random rubble with a small concrete pad in front of it
    • Had brick-lined fireboxes and cooking grates on north and east side
    • In poor condition with cracked mortar and missing stones when park was razed for Highway 100 reconstruction
  • Fireplace Two:
    • May have been removed before 1997
Graeser Park, 1940. Rectangular limestone picnic table in rock garden. Photo: MN Historical Society.
Stone picnic tables
  • Tables were similar to Graeser Park (shown in photo)
  • Site had three sets of stone picnic tables in 1997
  • Each set sat on a rectangle of flagstone
  • Several additional visible flagstone pads once held picnic tables
  • Tables and benches were built of tan, ashlar, roughly cut limestone
  • Stones were carefully chosen and cut
  • Tables were in two styles:
    • One table was square, with tabletop supported by a random rubble cruciform shape
      • Designed to have four 4′-long benches, seat of each supported by two stone block pedestals
      • Three benches in this set were broken or missing
    • Two tables were rectangular, with two stone 5′-long benches supported by three stone blocks
  • Tabletops and seats were simple slabs with rock faced edges
  • In poor condition, with stones missing, benches broken, a tabletop missing, and broken flagstone pads when park was razed for Highway 100 reconstruction
Blazer Park, 1939. Waterfall. Photo: MnDOT.
Blazer Park, 1939. MnDOT's photo page (Blazer is aka Golden Valley Roadside Parking Area.)
  • We have a scan of MnDOT’s original Blazer Park photo page, and this waterfall photo is one of four photos on that page, and is clearly listed as
    • Page title: S.P. 2735-02, Golden Valley Parking Area, T.H. 100 at Jct. M.N. & S. RR, Sta 962, Lt., Hennepin County
    • Photo: STA 960, 100/130/23, #577, 140
  • MnDOT’s Historic Roadside Development Structures Inventory for Blazer Park says
    • Historic name: Blazer Park
    • Other Name: Golden Valley Roadside Parking Area
  • The City of Golden Valley Historic Context Study writes “The park also displayed a stone bridge, with a double waterfall water feature”
Blazer Park, 1940s. Flag raising at Lilac Parade. Screen capture from TPT's Highway 100: Lilac Way documentary.
Blazer Park, Fall 2000. Flagpole. Photo: Preservation file, source unknown.
Stone flagpole
  • Located on park’s highest ground, in grassy oval at center of site
  • Octagonal structure built of tan, coursed ashlar, rock faced limestone
  • 9′-tall flagpole base was supported by four buttresses
  • Base stepped in as it rose upward
  • Two courses of smooth dark limestone form cap
  • Structure supported a tall, rusty flagpole
  • Shaft (about 4′ square) was ringed by three octagonal limestone steps
  • Small rectangular plaque missing from E side of flagpole base
  • In poor condition with cracked mortar when park was razed for Highway 100 reconstruction
Blazer Park, 1939. Signpost. Photo: MnDOT.
Blazer Park, Fall 2000. Entrance Sign. Photo: Preservation file, source unknown.
Stone signpost
  • At north edge of park
  • Large limestone entrance sign, was highly visible from Highway 100
  • Sign marked entrance to Blazer Park from Highway 100
  • Well-made
  • Built of two shades of limestone
  • Originally supported a hanging sign suspended with iron chain hung from east side
  • 4′-square structure built of tan, random ashlar, rock faced limestone, with stone cut and laid in complicated angles
  • Shaft of marker tapers and stepped in as it rose to 10.5′ height
  • Two slabs of smooth dark limestone formed a cap
  • Lancet-like slits on sides
  • East and west slits supported hanging arm of sign
  • Use of signs at wayside rests was consistent with national and state park design principles of the mid-1930s
  • Signs are few in number, strategically placed, and built of native materials
  • Park designers of the period suggested that lettering be burned, rather than painted, so sign would be easier to maintain
  • Metal signs were discouraged
  • In poor condition with cracked mortar when park was razed for Highway 100 reconstruction
Blazer Park, 1939. Council ring. Photo: MnDOT.
Council ring foundation
  • Near center of park
  • Foundation was 23′ in diameter, had a fire ring foundation in center
  • Built of tan, random ashlar, roughly cut limestone
  • Had a fire ring in center, flagstone paving around outside
  • Flagstone path led to pedestrian opening
  • Removed before 1997
Blazer Park, Aug. 22, 1999. Boulder marker, 'Dedicated to the Pioneers of Golden Valley - Golden Valley Garden Club - May 2, 1940.' Photo: Jeanne Andersen, SLP Historical Society.
Blazer Park, 5.24.1941. Dedicating a plaque to Pioneers of Golden Valley, MN, are GV garden Club members, Mrs. Glenn Richardson, Mrs. Richard Nelson and 2-year-old Johnson. GV pioneer Clark Varner, 87, came to GV when he was 1 year old. Lilac Dr. N and Glenwood Ave. Photo: Henn. Cty. Library
Boulder marker, erected by Golden Valley Garden Club, 1940
  • South of park’s flagpole base
  • Small rectangular metal plaque affixed to north side of boulder said: “Dedicated to the pioneers of Golden Valley. Golden Valley Garden Club. May 7, 1940.”
Well and pump structure
  • No photo found yet
  • Located near south end of park
  • 6′-square poured concrete pad and square base support the pump
  • Drinking water was provided at roadside parking areas and scenic overlook
  • Safe sources of drinking water discouraged travelers from drinking from ponds and streams, and were especially important before gas stations, restaurants, and convenience stores were built to serve the automobile culture
  • Pump was removed before 1997
  • Pad was dismantled when park was razed for Highway 100 reconstruction
Stone refuse container
  • No photo found yet
  • Near southwest corner of site
  • Square stone refuse container, designed to hold a metal can or drum for refuse
  • Built of tan, random ashlar roughly cut limestone
  • Was 4′ square, 2′ high
  • 8″ thick walls
  • Remains of another refuse container were located in lilac hedge west of flagpole
  • Needed mortar repair when park was razed for Highway 100 reconstruction
Circular island at the southern entrance
  • Removed when Lilac Drive North was put in