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60 years ago, Ike visited Glendalough

Tom Hintgen/FOCUS This state park photo at an information kiosk at Glendalough shows future President Dwight D. Eisenhower at the park's game farm on Sept. 8, 1952 (lower right). He was elected president two months later. At left is gamekeeper Alex Johnson and in back is John Cowles, Sr.

The year 2012 is special in the history of Glendalough State Park. Sixty years ago, in 1952, future president Dwight D. Eisenhower visited the property. It was a historic day when, on Sept. 8 of that year, he toured the Glendalough game farm, staying overnight in the lodge.

Eisenhower, fondly known as Ike to most Americans, visited Glendalough just two months before being elected president of the United States. He took a break from his presidential race with Adlai Stevenson to spend a couple days at Glendalough and enjoy some fishing at Annie Battle Lake.

At that time, the land was owned by the Cowles Media Company, owners of the Minneapolis Tribune. It became a state park in 1992.

Eisenhower's vice president, Richard Nixon, also spent some time at Glendalough, as a guest of the Cowles family, in 1956. Nixon was later elected president in 1968.

Many visitors who come to Glendalough State Park, northeast of Battle Lake, stop and see photos of Eisenhower and Nixon that are part of an informational kiosk near the main lodge, in the heart of the park. It was in the lodge, second floor, where both Eisenhower and Nixon stayed overnight, Ike in 1952 and Nixon four years later.

The kiosk provides a lot of information, and there's also a historical video available in the main lodge.

In 1990, the Cowles Media Company donated Glendalough to the Nature Conservancy. One year later, state legislation was proposed to transfer the property to the State of Minnesota, as a state park. The dedication as a state park took place on Earth Day, April 22, 1992.

Little has changed at the park since the future president's visits. A look to the southeast side of Annie Battle Lake, with its picturesque view of undeveloped lakeshore, is the same as when Ike and Nixon looked that way over a half century ago.

"We preserve one of the largest tracts of undeveloped lakeshore in west central Minnesota," said Park Manager Jeff Wiersma.

Glendalough dates back to 1903, when Ezra Valentine of Breckenridge purchased the property. In 1928, the property was sold to Minneapolis Tribune owner F.E. Murphy. It was Murphy who named the property Glendalough, after a monastery in Ireland. Cowles Media Company purchased the property in 1941.

A brief ceremony will be held at the park this fall to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Eisenhower's visit.