WEBSTER CITY, Iowa — In 1919, the Briggs family gave 60 acres of their wooded land to Hamilton County. This gift included rolling wooded hills and a spectacular waterfall, with the Boone River also running through the ground.
This was big news 100 years ago. This type of gift was the first to any county government in Iowa. It was even prior to the state park system getting underway in 1920.
“First county park in Iowa, makes obviously the oldest county park in the state,” said Brian Lammers, the Hamilton County Conservation Board Director. “The initial acres was 60 acres given to the county, so that was quite a gift to the county.”
The children of Euless and Ellen Briggs made the gift to honor their parents, who were early settlers in the area. Euless Briggs operated a limestone mine and a kiln in the hills of his property.
“And when you burn this stuff down, it turns into a powder, a lime powder. You take that powder and you mix it with water. You create what they call ‘poor man’s cement,'” said Lammers. “So that would be the mortar and that’s how they used to make concrete and mortar in between the bricks.”
Briggs Woods Park is around 500 acres with a 50 acre lake, a campground, a golf course and a new conference center that opened in April of this year. The park also has the Boone River running through, along with a bike trail to Webster City from the park.
This weekend the conservation board staff and volunteers will welcome visitors into the old red barn, which is the only remnant of the Briggs family. It is now used as a meeting area by park attendees.
“Around the barn we’ll have kind of walk-through of a timeline on how the park has grown over the years,” said Lammers.
If you would like to attend the celebration, here is a link to the schedule.