Historic U.S. 61: Tofte Roadside Park
Tofte Roadside Park
Located: On County Road 24 in Tofte Township, Cook County.
Historic Context: Early tourist site on the North Shore Highway.
Status: Intact, restored.
Access: On Cook County Road 24 at Tofte.
More U.S. 61 Articles
North >> Private Driveway at Tofte
South >> Tofte Park Road
The Tofte Roadside Park is a collection of cobblestone structures hidden away from modern Highway 61 on County Road 24. It was constructed in 1922 along what was then State Route 1. The section of road by the park was bypassed when the current highway was constructed in 1931.
The site features several structures, including a spillway, wishing well, water fountain, bridge, and a modern historic marker supported by a stone pedestal.
The text of the historic marker reads:
The Tofte park was donated to the town of Tofte by Elizabeth Tofte. She was the oldest child of John and Cecelia Tofte. John was one of the original settlers of Tofte.
In the early 1900's, the U.S. Government gave the settlers 160 acres of land, provided they lived on the land and made improvements over a five year period. John Tofte divided his land among family members. John's wife Cecelia was the official donor of the church property, and Elizabeth, yet a minor, made a gift of this park to the town of Tofte in 1922. her father John had to sign the papers as her agent. At the same time, John commissioned several men to build cobblestone bridges, a waterway, and a drinking fountain. Louis Olin, Olaf Gust Nelson, and Mr. Lemm were competitive contractors. It is unknown which of the contractors built the upper or the lakeside cobblestone bridge. The drinking fountain which is now a wishing well, had spring water running into it after Godin and Lemm hand-dug a ditch and tiled it to the park from a spring behind the present Roger Michaelson house. This was quite a feat.
All the cobblestones used in the construction were brought from a cobblestone beach, in a fishing skiff, to the Schroeder dock and then brought to Tofte with a team and wagon. The stones were carefully selected to be red, white, and blue and carefully tiered, as you can observe.
After 72 years of weathering and vandalism, Bob Boomgard volunteered, with the help of his wife Delora, to restore the bridges to their original condition. The project was completed in 1996.
Photos - taken in April, 2010.
Overlooking the historic structures, looking towards Lake Superior from County Road 24.
Looking back towards the old highway.
Tofte Park History marker.