Manito Park and Mirror Lake

In 1884, Francis Cook bought 40 acres at the top of the Grand Blvd hill, where the Cathedral of St. John now stands. He developed a farm there just outside the townsite. Two years later he purchased another 160 acres which includes all of the present Manito Park. He called the area Montrose Park. Cook planned to develop homesites in the area. He built a trolley line so potential buyers could have transportation to and from the area (1888). Unfortunately there was a depression in 1893 and Francis Cook lost the property. In 1903, the new owners organized to create a park of 95 acres and donate it to the city if the city agreed to provide water and roads to the area. It was a good deal for the developers and for the city.
Did you know that Manito Park had a zoo? The zoo was founded in 1905 by the city council. It had to close when the Great Depression set in because they didn't have enough money to feed the animals. The last remaining parts of the zoo are a few bars, chains and hooks lodged in the rock face behind the parkside cafe which used to be the peanut shack. The zoo had a variety of animals ranging from muskrats to peacocks, goats to bears and many others. This park used to be a great place to go with family.
Soon after the zoo was started a little girl named Elizabeth Harris stuck her hand in the polar bear cage to feed him. The bear grabbed onto her arm and didn't let go. By the time spectators around her pulled her free, her arm remained inside the polar bear. That was the only casaulty of the zoo.

Manito Park - Mirror Lake

The duck pond at Manito park used to be called Mirror Lake. Francis Cook liked to take long walks with his family at Mirror Lake. The lake was fed by springs. There used to be a dance pavillion next to the lake. Mirror Lake and Goat Hill were very special places. In the winter, people ice skated and went sledding. In the Spring and Summer the park was popular for family picnics and band concerts.
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Revised: September 22, 2002
Reports completed in 2000.