Three Chippewa County authors have again joined forces to tell the story of one of Chippewa Falls’ most beloved parks.
“Irvine Park (and smaller Chippewa Falls Parks): The Bear Facts,” by Anne Keller, Donna Bourget and Jim Schuh, takes a wander through the last 112 years of Irvine Park history.
William Irvine and the Chippewa Lumber and Boom Company donated the land that would become the park in 1906.
The sprawling park and zoo are a symbol of pride for Chippewa Falls residents, Keller said.
“I think the influence on the community and people who grew up here was more than I ever expected it to be,” Keller said of compiling the book. “People would go there if they were happy, upset, had picnics, were walking for their health ... there are so many different reasons people have enjoyed it over the years.”
The Historical Society was approached by the city to help with a timeline for Irvine Park’s new Welcome Center, Schuh said, and an idea for the book was born.
To accompany a cache of photos detailing the park’s life, the three co-authors dug up prized memories from the park’s youth.
They even found and interviewed William Irvine’s great-grandson, who now lives in Manitowoc, Wis., Keller said.
“Some of them, I’d trace their whereabouts (for genealogical purposes),” Keller said. “I looked through Manitowoc possibilities, found him and his brother, called him and talked to him.”
The authors were surprised at their findings.
A six-pointed star on top of Irvine Park’s main pavilion holds special significance, Schuh said, “but we’ll let people find that out in the book.”
It isn’t Keller, Bourget and Schuh’s first foray into local history. Schuh is vice president of the Chippewa County Historical Society, and Keller and Bourget are active in the local historical and genealogical societies.
In 2017, the trio debuted “Lake Wissota: The Dam Story” on the 100th anniversary of the lake’s creation.
Schuh hopes the newest book meets with the success of “Lake Wissota,” which has sold 2,000 copies to date.
“People really seem to enjoy Chippewa history, especially if it’s in a user-friendly format,” Schuh said.
Profits from both books will go to a capital campaign for a new Chippewa Area History Center.
The Center is over halfway to its goal of $3.5 million, Schuh said, which is slated to fund a brand-new building on Bridgewater Avenue, next to an entrance to Irvine Park itself.
Will the prolific trio tackle another local history book next?
“Ask me that in a couple weeks,” Keller joked. “Never say never.”
Starting Tuesday, the book is available for $20 from the Chippewa County Historical Society, the Chippewa Falls Senior Center and Main Street office, Country Treasures, Foreign Five, Chippewa Falls area Gordy’s Markets, Sand Bar & Grill and the Volume One Local Store and Chippewa Valley Museum in Eau Claire.
To order by mail, send a $25 check payable to CCHS at 123 Allen St. Chippewa Falls with “Irvine Park book” in the memo.
Book release events including author signings will be held Oct. 3, 5-7 p.m. Chippewa Falls Public Library; Oct. 15, 4-6 p.m. Sand Bar & Grill; Oct. 22, 3-4:30 p.m., Chippewa Manor; Nov. 2, 2-4 p.m. Wissota Place and Nov. 14, 10:45 a.m.-noon, Chippewa Falls Senior Center.