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Paynesville Press - July 24, 2001

View from the Lake

Bicycle trails on Koronis have a long history

By Linda Lorentzen

Koronis Road 1906 The dedication of the first phase of the Lake Koronis Recreational Trail was held July 13, 2002. Newly added six-foot wide pedestrian/ biking/roller blading lanes were added to both sides of Old Lake Road.

This first portion of the trail is a part of a larger vision of a trail that will allow people to safely travel from Paynesville to Veteran's Park and then circle Lake Koronis. The topic of traveling safely and efficiently from Paynesville to Lake Koronis and then to the inlet bridge surfaced over one hundred years ago.

A postcard from 1906 shows a portion of the road near Lake Koronis. Photo on file at Paynesville Area Historical Museum.

Bicycling became a popular leisure activity in Paynesville in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Because they also used the road to Lake Koronis, suggestions were made for the bicyclists to form an association to collect monies to be used for road improvement. An article appeared in the New Paynesville Press in April 1901. "In many of the smaller towns of this section we notice that the bicyclists are forming associations and levying a small tax upon the members for the purpose of constructing paths and improving the roads. Such an organization should be formed here. It ought not to be difficult to secure fifty riders who would pay a membership fee of one dollar each. A good path could be constructed to Koronis Park for a very few dollars and it would be a delightful ride. Besides the sentiment such a body would be able to create for good roads would be of great benefit to the community."

When we have the luxury of adding width to our present roads to allow for a safe travel by those not in cars, it is hard to remember that a hundred years ago roads did not circle the lake. In March 1902, A. M. Porter and others petitioned the town board to begin the process of "laying out a new road about the shore of Lake Koronis from Koronis Park to the inlet bridge." By April 1902, "The town board of Paynesville Township last week granted the petition for laying out a road from the inlet bridge at Lake Koronis, along the northeast shore of the lake, past Eagle Point, to Koronis Park, the Paynesville summer cottage resort, a distance of about two and a half miles. This road, when opened, will effect quite a saving of distance in going to and from Paynesville from the southeast. It will also be a much better road than the sandy one now leading north from the bridge." Payment for the road came from three sources: $200 from the county, $100 from the village, and $100 from the town board.

Articles appeared in the Litchfield Independent supporting the cause of better roads connecting Paynesville to towns from the south and southeast of the inlet bridge. "Paynesville people are moving to lay out a road from the bridge at the east end of Lake Koronis in a northwesterly direction along the shore to Koronis Park, from which place there is already a road to the village of Paynesville. This road should by all means be put through. It would materially shorten the distance to Paynesville from all points south and southeast from the inlet bridge, and all the Litchfield and Paynesville travel would go over it. Pipestone, Minnesota, and Tekamah, Nebraska, parties have recently purchased quite extensive tracts along the lake shore southeast from Koronis Park, for private club houses and family resorts, and that beautiful lake could be made a very populous resort in the summer time by proper and persistent effort by Paynesville businessmen. Koronis is the best lake for summer resort purposes between Minnetonka and Glenwood, and there is nothing to compare with it to the west or south for hundreds of miles."

Just as it has taken time for the first portion of the present Lake Koronis Recreational Trail to become reality, so it seemed that the road from Koronis Park to the inlet bridge took time. An update on the road was not available until February 1907. "The contract for grading the new wagon road from Koronis Park to the inlet bridge has been let by the township supervisors and county commissioners to four or five different parties and the work is now in progress. The road will probably be in shape for travel by July 1st." By August 1907, the report was that "the new road around the shore of Lake Koronis is graded as far as Loose Lake and the grubbing is all done through to the inlet. The grading will be completed and the road in passable condition before cold weather sets in."

If history is to be our guide we will celebrate the completion of each section of the Recreational Trail, knowing that progress takes time. A hundred years ago the hope was for roads to lead around a portion of Koronis and then lead to Paynesville, bringing tourists safely to the shores of the lake and the businesses of the town. Today we focus on providing a safe means for recreational activities as town and summer residents benefit from a view from the lake.

Information for this column was taken from the following editions of the Paynesville/New Paynesville Press: April 25, 1901; Jan. 2, 1902; March 20, 1902; April 10, 1902; April 17, 1902; May 2, 1907; and Aug. 22, 1907.

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