Meneyata Park History

The history of our beach association is closely tied to events in the lakes area beginning over one hundred years ago. Here are some of the key events around the Iowa Great Lakes, the City of Wahpeton, and Meneyata Park.

As early as 1912, it became apparent that access to the lakes was becoming difficult for the general public.

Every foot of shoreline of all the lakes, as far as the writer knows, is private property with the exception of those narrow strips where roads or streets run down to the water. There is not a foot of public park on these shores unless one construe as such the limited grounds about the state-owned fish hatchery at Orleans. The ninety miles of lake border is in the hands of individual owners, who, though improving these tracts in a splendid way, consider the land their own and very properly resent any wilful intrusions. (1912)

Source: Parsons, John W. (1988) History of the Iowa Great Lakes Region based on annual bulletins of the Okoboji Protective Association, 1906-1930 and 1940. Published for the Okoboji Protective Association, Milford, IA. p.47

Miller's Bay 1908
Miller's Bay 1908

In 1914 developers William and Emma Flindt platted the area they called Meneyata Park in the City of Wahpeton.

  • Block A (50 Acres) corner Section 24, Lakeville Township, now in City of Wahpeton (east half of Meneyata Park)
  • Block B (70 Acres) corner Section 23, Lakeville Township, now in City of Wahpeton (the west half of Meneyata Park.
Meneyata Park
There at the Waters
Meneyata Park There at the Waters

They specifically dedicated to the lot owners of Meneyata park the three beaches: Arrowhead, Hiawatha and Papoose. Separately, they dedicated the streets and avenues to the public. It is believed the beaches would be incentive for development. At the time this area was not close to the railroad system and difficult to reach.

Plat of Meneyata Parks
Plat of Meneyata Parks

Each and every lot owner in all of Block A and Block B have the following dedication recorded in their abstract.

Dedication:   State Of Iowa, Clay County:

We, William Flindt, owner and proprietor of all the land and lots described in the surveyors Certificate to the annexed plat of Meneyata Park, and M. Emma Flindt, his wife, do hereby certify and acknowledge that said described premises have been surveyed and platted at our request and we do hereby acknowledge the execution and platting thereof to be dedicated the avenue, streets and alleys to the public, and Papoose Beach, Hiawatha Beach and Arrow Head Beach are hereby dedicated to the use of West Okoboji, and to the owners of lots in the subdivision of Lot 1, Block 3, of West Okoboji, as recorded in the Plat Book No. 3, Page 42; but said beaches shall not be used for camping or commercial purposes or for any unlawful purpose.

Signed William Flindt, and M. Emma Flindt

This ad was featured in the 1917 bulletin of the Okoboji Protective Association.
This ad was featured in the 1917 bulletin of the Okoboji Protective Association.

Source: Parsons, John W. (1988) History of the Iowa Great Lakes Region based on annual bulletins of the Okoboji Protective Association, 1906-1930 and 1940. Published for the Okoboji Protective Association, Milford, IA.

Local Okoboji historian Aubrey LaFoy recalls the era and history of the stone wall at Hiawatha Beach. In the photo of Hiawatha (circa 1929) you can see the stone walls.

Source: 1929 photo found in archives of the IOLBC and donated to MPLOA Inc.
Source: 1929 photo found in archives of the IOLBC and donated to MPLOA Inc.

The stone wall was privately constructed between 1925 and 1926 by area mason John Burgin, Milford, IA. A cottage across the road and the stone steps and pillars were also built by John Burgin. The stone pillars on Highway 86 at the Crescent Beach turn and the two stone pillars on the vacant lot of the former Dr. Ferdinand Smith property on Lakeshore Ave., Wahpeton are some of Burgin’s work. Dr. Smith organized the Okoboji Protective Association in 1905 for protecting everything for the good of the lakes.

gull point lodge postcard

Not until 1932, when most of the lakeshore property on West Okoboji lake had been purchased for private use, and there became almost no place for the public to get to the lake without trespassing, a movement began to obtain public lands. It was at this time that Gull Point opened.

Source:  Elston, Hattie P (1988). White Men Follow After. Spirit Lake, Iowa. Dickinson Co. Historical Society and Museum