Last Update: June 9, 2002
Friends of Swede Hollow (FOSH) formed in 1994 when a number of interested neighbors from both sides of Swede Hollow came together to discuss our common goals, deep affection for and commitment to the park, as well as our dreams, ideas, concerns, and the history of Swede Hollow. Other dedicated Swede Hollow supporters have joined the group since then. Many of the members have been involved in Swede Hollow since the early 1970's when Swede Hollow Park was in the early stages of development. 

FOSH has been meeting. monthly, planning and orchestrating a number of clean ups and work days in the park, as well as two oral history sessions at Metropolitan State University recording memories and stories from former Swede Hollow residents. 

Founding of FOSH

Friends of Swede Hollow (FOSH) was started by a number of USHNA members and other neighbors interested in improving Swede Hollow Park, because: 

  • We want to be proactive to park issues rather then reactive. 
  • We realize that the Saint Paul Parks and Recreation Department can not watch over or care for the park the way that neighbors can. 
  • We are aware that limited public funds are available for parks, and our group continues to look into other funds and other ways of doing park improvements. 

  • Brief History of Swede Hollow

    Swede Hollow is nestled between the Dayton's Bluff and Railroad Island communities in the ravine that once carried Phalen Creek to the Mississippi River. The first settler to the picturesque valley was Edward Phalen in 1841. He sold his claim in 1844 to William Dugus who built Saint Paul's first sawmill on the creek. Other businesses followed and in 1865 the first train rolled through the valley heading to Duluth. 

    The early industry attracted Swedish immigrants who settled just south of the industrial area and   named the valley Svenska Dalen or Swede Hollow. As the Swedish moved "up onto the street", other immigrant people moved into the homes: the Polish, Italian and then the Spanish Americans.

    Gentille Yarusso lived in the Hollow in the 1920's and wrote "We children often wondered why our people chose this enchanted place to settle in. Why not somewhere else? As we got older we knew; they chose this place because they were with their own countrymen, with familiar faces, family noises, gestures, facial expressions. They selected this enchanted landscape because it resembled the place they had left behind. They loved the hills, the trees, the stream, the security of friends and relatives." 

    In December 1956, the city Health Department discovered that Swede Hollow had no sewer or city water service and declared the Hollow a health hazard. The last 14 families were moved out and the remaining homes destroyed. Ideas for the property at that time included filling it in for industrial use, bridging it for use as part of the highway 212 project, or making it a city park. 

    Swede Hollow Park Background

    Talk of making Swede Hollow a park can be traced back to 1900, when Park Commissioner William Hamm was trying to get fellow commissioners in favor of Swede Hollow becoming a city park in memory of his father Theodore Hamm (founder of the brewery in the north end of the Hollow, which eventually became the Stroh Brewery Company.)    It did not happen at that time, but over the years the park idea resurfaced a number of times. Then in 1973, neighborhood residents and the Saint Paul Garden Club began working with the Saint Paul Parks Department to make Swede Hollow a city park. We have been collecting many photos and much information throughout all of the stages of development of the park. Much work has been completed on Swede Hollow Park, and the Bruce Vento Regional Trail now connects Swede Hollow to Phalen Park.   In the years to come the Bruce Vento Traill will connect with the Willard Munger recreational trail, which will connect Saint Paul to Duluth.

    The community has a number of ideas for long range improvement projects that are currently under discussion: 

  • Restore native vegetation and reintroduce native wildlife to the park. 
  • Establish a forest management plan with the Department of Natural Resources and Greening of the Great River.
  • Become a living science laboratory for neighborhood school children,  local residents, Metropolitan State University and the Science Museum.
  • Daylight Phalen Creek using water from Lake Phalen when available. Supplement with water currently discharged from 3M and storm water. Open creek where possible from Lake Phalen to the River. 
  • Provide surface drain on lower pond (near East 7th Street). 
  • Provide pedestrian connection from  Metropolitan State University.
  • Extend Swede Hollow Park north to include Bruce Vento Regional Trail (BN Rail right of way) to Arcade Street. 
  • Repair and maintain existing remaining walls, tunnels and former railroad infrastructure.
  • Continue historical research.
  • Install unobtrusive markers on historic sites. 
  • Seek National Register of Historic Places designation for entire park.
  • Encourage the preservation of the small village on Wadena  Street and Wells Avenue, the only remaining vestige of the previous residential colony. 
  • Replicate the Schaber Family Mill in Swede Hollow Park as a historic marker. 
  • Move endangered cottage, carriage house or other structure of similar size to park trail head, orient it toward river for use as an interpretive center. 
  • Relocate cellular phone towers. 
  • Connect Swede Hollow and the Bruce Vento Regional Trail to the river through the Lower Phalen Creek project.
  • Improve image and use of Swede Hollow. 
  • Children learning & art program in park. 

  • If you have any ideas please let us know. We welcome new members or anyone wishing to visit our meetings or participate in our projects. For more information please call Karin at 776-0550. 

    Yes, you can help. 

    Here is a list of some of the things we do. You maybe interested in one or several: 

  • Planting trees and plants 
  • Park restoration 
  • Clean up the park 
  • Work with Children 
  • Oral history 
  • Research 
  • Informational meetings 
  • Planning meetings 

  • Call Karin at 776-0550 and she will be happy to help you find the right activities for you. 

    Volunteers are essential and appreciated.