NEW LONDON -- Five large granite monuments that tell the story of the early history of New London and give honor to the U.S. military are being installed this week at a new memorial park in downtown New London.
The New London Memorial Park is located alongside Main Street on the original site of a long-gone flour mill and a state fish hatchery that was razed in 2006.
Sitting at the top of a rise, the small park overlooks the Crow River Dam that creates the scenic Mill Pond.
It was shortly after the demolition of the hatchery that members of the Robert Ihlang American Legion Post 537 agreed to set aside funds to create a memorial park on the bare land that serves as the entrance to the town's retail shopping area.
It took six years, however, for the project to become a reality.
The land is still owned by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and it took time to finalize a lease agreement that was needed for the project to move ahead. Also, the project could not begin until construction of the new DNR dam was completed last year.
Dale Peterson watched Wednesday morning as two workers from Cold Spring Granite carefully maneuvered a 6,000-pound, polished Minnesota granite slab into place.
"It's a dream come true," said Peterson, who said fellow members of the local American Legion wanted to give something back to the town that would "make an impact."
The club is spending about $70,000 for the project, using profits generated from the post's restaurant and bar.
"We've been very blessed here in New London," said Peterson, who spearheaded the project.
The park includes five granite monuments that have brass plates engraved with dates and historical facts about four different aspects of the town: The early history of New London, the origins of the Crow River Dam and Mill, history of the fish hatchery and information about the Robert Ihlang American Legion Post.
The largest granite slab in the middle shows emblems of the different branches of the U.S. military.
The park will also include an American flag, granite benches and an area for planted flowers.
Granite pavers will also be installed, which could take one to two weeks to complete, depending on the weather, said Tim Phillips, from Cold Spring Granite.
Jerome Miller was commissioned in 2006 to research and write the information that is included on the brass plates. Peterson said Miller died in 2007 shortly after completing the project.
"There is history here," said Peterson, looking at the monument.
A dedication ceremony is being planned. Peterson said it will likely be held on Memorial Day of next year when the project is totally finished with landscaping.