Archived Story

BL still likes Ike

Published 10:43am Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Imagine Barack Obama dropping by a park in Otter Tail County to spend the weekend sleeping in a cabin, fishing, attending a local church and playing bridge at a local restaurant. In 1952, Dwight Eisenhower made a stop in Battle Lake, and even though 60 years have passed since the historic visit, area residents still like Ike.

Around 30 guests gathered at Glendalough Saturday morning to celebrate the 60-year anniversary of the event. A presentation was given, and visitors went on a tour that followed Ike’s footsteps through the park. They saw the cabin he stayed in, the dining hall he ate in and the point he fished off of, said park manager Jeff Wiersma.

Ike’s visit was far from a long anticipated event; in fact, nobody had any idea he would be visiting the small town until about eight hours prior to his arrival on a Saturday evening.

While his original plan was to land in Fergus Falls, delays forced him to touch down in Alexandria.

Ike had just finished speaking in front of 125,000 in Plowville near Rochester, and he needed a break from campaigning, Wiersma said.

“How many times does a small community like this have a visit from a president?” he said. “That had to have been such an extraordinary moment for someone like that to come to church, fish, play bridge with local folks and spend the night.”

This is the first year the park has celebrated the landmark event, and Wiersma said it’s important because there are still a few people around who remember seeing Ike in town. That won’t be the case in a few years.

Some still remember seeing Eisenhower riding to church in the back of the park manager’s car. Today, a major political figure like that would be in a bullet proof limo surrounded by law enforcement personnel and secret service agents, he said.

“The 40s and 50s was Glendalough’s heyday,” Wiersma said. “It was really considered a high class place. Now it would be looked at as pretty rustic by somebody on the campaign trail.”

Perhaps the one disappointment that came along with Ike’s visit was that he never came back.

“Eisenhower said whether he won or not, he was going to come back, but he never did,” said Wiersma.

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