Land sale finalized to expand Kensington Runestone Park
Since 2008, the Douglas County Parks Department has been working on a land acquisition project at Kensington Runestone Park.
The goal: Expand the park and showcase the land and farm where the controversial Kensington Runestone was found.
Back in 2006, the Kensington Runestone Park Foundation purchased 140 acres of land from David and Margaret Strand for the park. The park, however, is owned by Douglas County.
Because the foundation could act faster than the county, it bought the land from the Strands, according to Al Lieffort, Douglas County park superintendent.
Since that time, the county has been working to purchase the land from the foundation.
The county, with the help of a federal land and water conservation grant and the public, purchased 114 of the 140 acres. However, Lieffort said there was still a small remnant of land left.
Last Friday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service purchased the last little chunk of land, noted Lieffort.
Now, all the property that was originally purchased by the Kensington Runestone Park Foundation has been sold to either the county or federal government.
The parcel bought by U.S. Fish and Wildlife will be part of a waterfowl production area (WPA), according to Lieffort.
With the purchase of the remaining acres, Lieffort noted that the mortgage on the property, which amounted to $490,000, is retired.
Since the park foundation purchased the property, it has been paying interest on it, said Lieffort.
"That was quite an effort by those folks," he said.
information about the park
Kensington Runestone Park has seen big changes over the years - buildings have been torn down and rebuilt, playground equipment has been erected, trees have grown taller and flowerbeds have been planted.
And recently, there was the addition of 140 acres.
The plan for the park, noted Lieffort, is to get the Ohman farm - where the controversial Kensington Runestone was found in 1898 - back to its "homestead shape."
The land and farm tell the story of what happened in 1898, he added.
"We want to get the land back to what it was like when Olof and Karin Ohman lived there," said Lieffort.
The Kensington Runestone was found clutched in the roots of an aspen tree on the Ohman land. Ohman, several of his sons and nearby farmers were clearing the land for plowing. Some believe the stone, which contains runic inscriptions, was left by early Scandinavian explorers in 1362, more than 100 years before Columbus arrived in America.
Others believe it is an elaborate hoax.
Lieffort said the whole story is wrapped around the controversy and that the plan is to get "Back to 1898" and turn the area into a historic tourism destination. He said the parks department and the foundation want to restore the farm in a real "hands-on" way using the sciences of geology and archaeology to tell the story.