'Pathway to the Loon' will offer safe passage from Vergas to city park on North Long

"Pathway to the Loon" has been the operative phrase for a bunch of Vergas-boosters and, starting Oct. 15, the trail to the "World's Largest Loon" is on a course to reality.

"Pathway to the Loon" has been the operative phrase for a bunch of Vergas-boosters and, starting Oct. 15, the trail to the "World's Largest Loon" is on a course to reality.

"I think there's a song in there somewhere...You know, 'Fly me to the Moon'...'Pathway to the Loon,'" laughed Rodney Hanson, one of the volunteers who has been dreaming about a safety lane from downtown Vergas to the lakeside park.

Sharing the dream, were the late Gordon Dahlgren and the late Rodger Hanson (Rodney's brother).

"That dream has been out there, really, ever since the loon was put in the park. It was always in the back of my father's mind," said Sherri Hanson, Rodger's daughter. "This trail has meant so many things to so many people."

The giant loon statue, and its location in one of the most scenic parks and swimming beaches around, has helped make Vergas famous. But ideally, a recreational trail from the quaint retail district and the residential area nearby would be the finishing touch--so walkers, joggers, mothers with strollers, nature lovers and kids on bikes could safely travel to the park. Because of the proximity of the lake, the steep bank, and the narrow road shoulders there is really no safe way to walk or bicycle to the park.


But the trail not only serves kids and families, noted Cheryl Hanson, pointing to several senior citizens in the audience.

"Those scooter guys have been the poster children for the trail," she said. Housing developments aimed at the elderly have been built just down the road, and the community wants to serve the needs of present and future senior citizens.

Every donation, "whether it was $1 or $10,000" helped fund the trail, said Cheryl Hanson. "Help came from so many different people and so many different resources," she added.

At a project cost of $300,000, it is an expensive mile of narrow blacktop. But because it is on high ground overlooking North Long Lake, there were numerous environmental issues. The retaining wall that will be built along the shoreline, to prevent erosion and run-off, will cost $125,000 alone.

A Department of Natural Resources grant will cover most of the cost of the retaining wall. A grant of $175,000 came from the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Nearly $50,000 was raised locally and through the city.

The project has special meaning for Cal Larson, former State Senator, who was on hand for the groundbreaking. The late Rodger Hanson was in the legislature with Larson, dating back to 1966. Hanson was also longtime mayor of Vergas.

"Vergas has always been my home away from home," said Larson, a Fergus Falls resident, who has a lake home on Crystal Lake, near Vergas.

Phase two of the project will require another $50,000, for landscaping and lighting.


For current Vergas Vice-Mayor Scott Goodman, the effort has been at least a five year process.

"Any time you're dealing with grant money, you have to go through the process," said Goodman.

The number of individuals, families and organizations that have participated in raising funds are too numerous to mention, but among the contributors mentioned in the brochure include:

---Vergas City Council

---Vergas Community Club

---Vergas Fire Dept.

---Vergas Lions

---Vergas Baseball Club


---Vergas businesses

---Frazee-Vergas VFW

---Charitable gambling

---Vergas Looney Days

---Corporate donations


The project is engineered by Ulteig Engineers, and is dedicated to the public service of Rodger Hanson.

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