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Paynesville Press - September 5, 2001

View from the Lake

Savor the last days of summer

By Linda Lorentzen

Each time I visit the Paynesville Area Historical Museum I am delighted to learn of something I've missed in trying to find information about the history of Lake Koronis. This past weekend when looking through a file I came upon an essay written by Zella Hegg. Although I vaguely remember reading her written thoughts a number of years ago, I really didn't understand how valuable the information was. She had an obvious love for Lake Koronis, as so many people throughout the years have expressed, and as a parting column for the year, I'd like to share some of her thoughts. Unfortunately, her essay was not dated.

"Koronis has always meant so much to me. Looking back, even to the 90s, it seems as though most of our good times centered around Koronis. Family picnics, Sunday school picnics in summer and in winter sleigh rides to the lake to skate on the ice. And one summer our family lived on a farm south of the lake and my big brother, Carl, took us fishing so I became acquainted with that part of the lake."

Hegg's grandfather (last name Nelson) settled on a farm a few miles southeast of Koronis, bordering on the Crow River, when the land was opened to settlement by the government. He knew H. I. Peterson, editor of the Litchfield Independent, who owned Stony Point. During her grandfather's time the tall trees were full of bald-eagle nests, the bay near the Assembly Grounds was called Sandborn's Bay and the point to the east and south of it was called, Beckley's Point.

Her parents settled in Paynesville in 1894 and her memories were filled with old store buildings, lengthy travels to St. Cloud, and Sunday rides to Koronis in a carriage pulled by a team of horses.

"Often during the summer four or five of us neighbor girls got together and planned a trek to the lake ­ when we went to Koronis, we started early ­ the first mile wasn't very interesting but when we got up on the hill and cut across the pasture in the woods there was always something to draw our attention ­ birds, flowers, and trees. Then we came out on the road near Aunt Maggie and Uncle Bill Chisholm's little farm home. I remember one day we were so hot and thirsty someone suggested stopping in for a cold drink at the well back of the house. Aunt Maggie ­ how well I remember her ­ every hair was slicked down in place and she always had a clean dress and apron. Her cheeks were rosy and she always had a smile.

She saw us at the well and invited us to come into her cellar where she had just finished churning butter. She gave us each a glass of cold buttermilkŠAfter leaving Aunt Maggie's we went on to Koronis. I think we liked best to wade and bathe in the water at what was then called the ŚOld Landing.' This was where the steamboat landed on Sundays, or special occasions to take passengers. On weekdays it was anchored out from shore a little ways. We picked up many beautiful agates or carnelians along the shore of the lake from where Bast's home is east to where the good beach ends. I was only a little girl, about ten then, but I was good at spotting them.

We always took a few sandwiches or cookies and would sit on a shady hillside to eat them. And we usually dreaded the long trail home. Things didn't seem as interesting on the way home as we had used up our energy. How tired we were and I can just remember thinking if I only could keep taking just another step I would finally get home."

I agree with Hegg as she summarizes her feelings about Lake Koronis. "We thought we were having such good times. To borrow a phrase from James W. Riley: ŚThose old days of the lost sunshine of youth.'" Savor these last days of summer, tucking away your memories from this past summer in a safe place for the cold winter day's dreaming of a view from the lake.

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