To reserve the park for events, please call 320-762-2999.
In 1927, the first Runestone Foundation was organized. Plans were made to raise funds with the purpose of making a park and monument on the site of the discovery of the Kensington Runestone. Quite a sum of money was raised but all of it was lost during the depression and the project was silent for many years. In the 1950’s and 1960’s interest in the park project resurfaced and money was raised.
In 1971, Cliff Roiland, a Kensington businessman, helped organize the Kensington Boosters. An option to purchase 110 acres of the Olaf Ohman farm was signed. In 1973 articles of incorporation of the Runestone Park Foundation were signed. That year the original 80 acres of the park was purchased from Arthur Ohman, son of Olaf. Contributions came from Douglas County, the Runestone Museum Board, Kensington Youth Club and scores of individuals. The following year the property was deeded to Douglas County as a county park.
At the top of the hill, where the runestone was found, a memorial was erected with the names of contributors and officers of the original Runestone Park Foundation. A plaque is inscribed with the translation of the runestone and the Minnesota, Norwegian and Swedish flags are flown daily. The Bicentennial celebration held in the park in July of 1976 was the culmination of years of dreams and hard work for members of the foundation.
The first Kensington jail was moved to the park. The dairy barn has been remodeled as a community center, complete with kitchen and bathroom facilities, tables and chairs, and is handicap accessible. The barn has been used by many different gatherings, and is available on a “first come first serve basis”. It is heated during the winter months for use by people enjoying cross country skiing and sledding.
Cliff Roiland passed away in l976 and Al Lieffort was named Park Manager, a position he still holds. The following year the Cliff Roiland memorial chapel was built on the premises by the Alexandria Tech carpentry class. In 1980 the Ohman farm house was restored. It is open to the public weekends and holidays and by special request Memorial Day thru Labor Day.
In 2010 the most recent parcel was purchased. The park now consists of 304 acres of wooded, gently rolling land. Two shelters for picnicking, outdoor game fields, trails for hiking and cross-country skiing, a playground area, and flower beds are provided for the enjoyment of the many who visit the park. The shelters may be reserved by calling the Douglas County Park Division office at 320-762-2966.
More information about the park is available at the web site of the Douglas County Public Works – Parks Division.
The Kensington Rune Stone Park Foundation’s board is still very active.
President: Courtney Smith
Vice President: Myron Westling
Treasurer: Ralph Gunderson
Secretary: Jennifer Bennett