Local Pastor Instrumental In Creation of McKenzie County Heritage Park
November 16, 2022 | View PDF
Back in 1992, local pastor Alton Hillesland, formerly of Watford City and now in Sidney, was passing by a collection of antique farm equipment north of Watford City owned by a fellow Lions Club member, Arne Holms. "Arne had been complaining to me that he was tired of moving the machinery every time he had to mow," said Hillesland. "So as I was passing Ras Rolfson's office (another Lions' club member) I stopped to see if there was something we could do to help Arne."
The idea was brought up to the Lions Club and a board of directors consisting of fellow club members Ray Stenberg, Ras Rolfson, Clyde Holman, Don Erikson and Alton Hillesland, were elected to form the Heritage Park.
When the McKenzie County Heritage Park was just coming into existence, city of Watford City had just donated a parcel of land to the Park Association located on the west edge of town. With city council approval the Heritage Park Association now owned 6 1/2 acres of land.
Members began gathering various equipment and several buildings from the early homestead days. In addition they put up flagpoles for flags representing nationalities in the area and a steel building for storage.
The park was officially dedicated and a grand opening was held Sept. 15, 1995.
A few of the additions to the park are: wooly mammoth femur bone, tusk and tooth; former North Dakota Governor George Shafer's law office; tar paper shack; log cabin; Patent Gate; Disk; 2-bottom, single, 3-bottom, 1-bottom sulky plows; 2 manure spreaders; 2-row corn cultivator; grasshopper/poison spreader; corn cultivator; school bus; water tank; sweep rake; Cyrus McCormick's reaper; dump rake; road grader/scraper; sickle mower; 2-row corn planter; Spring tooth harrow; harrow; field cultivator; sweep rake; hay wagon; hay loader/pickup; hay sled; grain wagon; threshing machine; slip scraper; walk-behind plow; walk-behind cultivator; grind stone; single disk shoe drill; 2-row corn cultivator; double disk drill; dirt scoop; grain binder; 1-row corn binder; over-shot hay stacker; Case steam tractor engine; sheriff's car garage; Don Erikson's Fire Station; blacksmith's shop; working sawmill; 4-sided planer; stationary baler; antique tractors; church.
Hillesland is the only original Heritage Park board member left and has received a life-time membership to the Park for his dedication to the board from 1992-1996.