Treasured park

Phelps Mill County Park is one of the many treasures located in the county. The park has doubled in size after the county acquired 72 acres.

Phelps Mill Park is a local treasure. Known for the historic mill and dam on the Otter Tail River, Phelps Mill County Park doubled in size after Otter Tail County acquired 72 acres of land on the park’s northern boundary as well as the general store. Creating a master plan became a first step in realizing a vision for a new Phelps Mill County Park. On April 27, the Otter Tail County Board of Commissioner’s adopted the Phelps Mill County Park Master Plan.

Phelps Mill County Park is a special place visitors have appreciated for many years. In 1965, Otter Tail County acquired 55 acres and the facilities of Phelps Mill County Park to create a recreation site and to protect an important piece of the area’s local history. The park includes Phelps Mill Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The addition of 72 acres created exciting opportunities to introduce new amenities to the park.

“The purpose of the master plan was to use public input to lay out goals for future development of the expanded park,” said Chuck Grotte, Otter Tail County engineer. “We would like to thank those who assisted in preparing the plan. It will be very useful as we continue to thoughtfully preserve and develop this treasure in Otter Tail County.”

For this planning process a steering committee comprised of local agency staff, park stakeholders and general members of the public. On Jan. 25, 2020, an open house was held to share examples of park amenities and ideas for Phelps Mill County Park. Several themes were identified that guided the development of the master plan:

• Enhanced water access on the Otter Tail River.

• Improved picnic and restroom.

• Expanded natural play area.

• Camping facilities.

The desire for canoe camping and hike-in camping was resounding. The master plan includes four campsites that are within 200 feet of the river that will serve as good options for canoe campers. The plan includes five additional hike-to campsites and four all-abilities campsites that are adjacent to the farmstead.

“There isn’t another park in the state like Phelps Mill,” said Otter Tail County Deputy Administrator Nick Leonard. “The master plan provides a roadmap to ensure the park’s history, character and natural resources are preserved for many more generations to come.”

A copy of the plan can be found on the county website at ottertailcountymn.us/project/phelps-mill-master-plan/.

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