Read stories of Lilac Way’s early days.

THANK YOU to everyone who has shared their Lilac Way memories. You’ve helped keep history alive.

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Submitted Lilac Way Stories

View all the stories, or select a park or city from the list below to see only those stories. Super easy.

If your Lilac Way park doesn’t appear in the list below, it means we haven’t received any stories for that park yet. So, submit your story!

John Calhoun
Downers Grove, Illinois

“I grew up in the early ’60s on Vernon Avenue in St. Louis Park. My buddies and I used to go sledding on the hill in the original Lilac Park, next to the Highway 100 bridge. The hill faced north, with Lake Street/Minnetonka Boulevard at the top of the hill. Sledding down into the park, we were just a stone’s throw from the limestone beehive fireplace and picnic tables.”

Submitted 7.11.19

Nancy Kaminski
Minneapolis, Minnesota

“I remember Lilac Way parks from when I was little! We passed by them on Highway 100 when my family drove me to Camp Fire Girls camp out by the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Once we stopped and had lunch on a stone picnic table in one of those little parks. I remember the beehive fireplace. I never knew what the name was, though. I remember the huge lilacs that were there, too.”

Submitted 7.10.2019

Don Scroggins
Alameda, California

“We had a couple end-of-year class picnics at Monkey Island (now Rock Island) when I attended Fern Hill School in St. Louis Park in late ’50s and early ’60s.”

Submitted 7.5.2019

Tim Olson and Michele Wendling Olson
Ball Ground, Georgia

“How about a Lilac Way love story? I met a girl in 1974, we were both 15 years old. She lived on one side of Highway 100 in St. Louis Park, I lived on the other. Thirty five years later we found each other again, reconnecting on the Minnetonka Boulevard bridge near the original Lilac Park for our first kiss. So blessed to now call her my wife.

The maid of honor at our wedding was the girl that gave me Michele’s phone number. She brought us a piece of concrete from the old bridge for a wedding present.”

Submitted 7.5.2019

Jonathan Lichterman (Lichty)
River Forest, Illinois

“Good times. Monkey Island (now Rock Island) was a hangout for us kids in the 2600 through 2900 blocks of Raleigh, Salem and Toledo during the late ’70s. That was where we stopped on our way back across Highway 100 to ingest the pure sugar bought at Rogers Gas Station and Park Market amongst the Stonehenge-like runes of Monkey Island.

I had no idea of the actual history of it, and was convinced that it was once inhabited by actual monkeys.”

Submitted 7.5.2019

Michael Pinkerton
Minneapolis, Minnesota

“We grew up on 29th and Salem. My brother Steve McGregor and my younger brother Jeff hung out in the original Lilac Park, along with Steve and Paul Margraf, Howie Reynolds, Mike and Scott Lundin. GREAT TIMES! But you had to be careful sledding in the winter, because I do remember ending up in the northbound lane of Highway 100 once or twice.”

Submitted 7.4.2019

Paul Linnee
Bloomington, MN

“I spent my formative years (ages 4 – 21, 1950-1967) one block away from Rock Island, which we called “Monkey Island”. I lived at 2716 Toledo Avenue. In those days, the ‘entrance ramp’ from Minnetonka Boulevard to Highway 100 was not what we think of them as being today. (more…)

Sharon Lehrman
St. Louis Park, MN

“I went to Park Hill Elementary School on Ottawa and Minnetonka Boulevard from 1958-1961. We used to walk to the original original Lilac Park and Rock Island for a picnic at the end of the school year! Great memories of playing hide and seek in all the lilac bushes. I grew up on Xenwood Avenue in St. Louis Park, and amazingly we used to run across Highway 100 in the mid-1960s (at that time I think Highway 100 was called Lilac Way) to play at that park. We also had a few family picnics there.”

Submitted 4.10.2019

Geraldine (Petroskey) Waalk
St. Louis Park, Minnesota

“I grew up in Robbinsdale and live in St. Louis Park now. All family picnics were spent at Graeser Park at Highway 100 and Highway 52 (now 81). This is a photo of my 3rd grade class at Graeser Park – probably a school picnic at year end. (more…)

Lynn Betts
Independence, MN

“I enjoyed picnics at Graeser Park on Sunday family drives. That was in the fifties. Many families packed picnic lunches and let the kids run and play. After the highway came through some picnic tables were left and some lilacs, but not like it had been.

I loved the beehive fireplaces. My Dad made a similar one for our backyard out of matching stone to our house in Richfield. Highway 100 changed so much of the country feel.”

Submitted 3.29.2019

Roger Bergman
Golden Valley, MN

“I remember going to Graeser Park many times back in the late 50’s and early 60’s. But more than Graeser Park we spent time at the picnic area on the west side of the train bridge and north of 43rd Avenue, on the west side of 100 (Graeser Park South). (more…)

Stephen Smaciarz
Robbinsdale, MN

“I had some of my best childhood school memories of Graeser Park when as a kid we would walk several blocks down West Broadway in Robbinsdale from Sacred Heart Catholic Grade School for our annual end-of-school picnic in early June from 1957-1965. (more…)

Mike Dickinson
St. Louis Park, MN

“I remember class picnics from Fern Hill School in St. Louis Park, where I attended 4th and 5th grade in 1950-51. The picnics were at Monkey Island (now Rock Island) during the last week of school in late May or early June. Monkey Island was actually a small Island (about the size of a kitchen) surrounded by a circular “moat” a couple yards wide and 2-3 feet deep. There was a little stone footbridge so a person could walk to the island. (more…)

Chris Larson
Minneapolis, MN

“As a young girl, my family and I would get together in the latter 1950’s to picnic at Graeser Park. I remember my mother telling me to stay out of the fountain. However, I couldn’t resist wading around barefoot in the fountain. Much to my chagrin, I stepped on broken glass in the fountain and sliced my foot open. That was the end of my fountain wading!

In 1966-67, Graeser Park’s parking area became a favorite ‘parking and make-out spot’!!!”

Submitted 2.19.2019

Irene Johnson
Robbinsdale, MN

“My husband used to walk our former dog, Ahmish, who looked forward to walking around the Graeser Park beehive fireplace.”

Submitted 2.19.2019

Kristi Gibson
Bloomington, MN

“I grew up in Golden Valley and “Lilac Way” was a big part of my childhood. Our family home from 1922 to 1968 was close to downtown Robbinsdale, but for whatever reason we didn’t visit Graeser Park during my childhood, and I don’t remember knowing about it until I was grown and married and living in Robbinsdale. (more…)

Linda Chapple
Minneapolis, MN

“My heart gives a little sigh when I see these old Graeser Park photos, my 10 year old self in black and white. In 1956 our family moved from the Paynesville, MN area to the Twin Cities. The first few years we went back three weekends a month. Stopping at the Graeser Park roadside attraction was right up my farmer background – FREE. (more…)

Pam Williams
Brooklyn Park, MN

“I remember Graeser Park‘s pond, tables and beehive fireplaces. Our Girl Scout troop would go there for picnics, it was a very nice park. Our family went there too for picnics. It was a busy place back then, with families having fun.”

Submitted 8.27.2018

Tim Munn
Menahga, MN

“We used to catch sunfish and crappies from Twin Lake, just down the highway by the old bridge that separated North Twin and Middle Twin Lakes. We would take the fish live in a bucket down to the fountain at Graeser Park. We did this in the late ’50s and through the mid-’60s.

The fountain would be shooting up in the air pretty high. The water in the pond was pretty clear.

The fish seemed to do quite well all summer. I don’t know who cleaned them out at the end of the seasons, but someone did.”

Submitted 8.26.18

Karen Laukkonen
St. Louis Park, MN | Designer of

“Growing up in St. Louis Park, I always Ioved the lilacs on Highway 100. My dad remembered driving on the road in the 1940’s and 1950’s. He told me, ‘You didn’t drive on Lilac Way, you drove TO Lilac Way.’ It was more than just a highway—it was a destination.

All these years later, I’ve designed and am maintaining this website to maintain the legacy of the Lilac Way.”

Submitted 5.1.2018