Submitted Lilac Way Stories
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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.
My first memory of visiting Graeser Park is from 1981, when my daughter was five years old. My in-laws, who lived in Crystal, took us there for a picnic, and I was blown away to discover this magical, hidden place with water flowing down a rock wall into a pond. So close to the highway we traveled so often, yet so otherworldly and seemingly ancient. A wonderful, warm memory of a sweet summertime adventure!
“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.
Weddings and funerals were met with a caravan of us ‘City Slickers’, uncles, aunts and cousins. Graeser Park was the last stop before we split and we went NE while others went to St Paul, Fridley etc.
I can remember running around all the stone benches, tables etc. Many times we were the only family there, and we had all that space to run and play, safely and beautifully. My love of rough hewn stones probably started there. Visiting will be emotional.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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 restorelilacway.com website to maintain the legacy of the Lilac Way.”