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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


From Encyclopedia Dubuque
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Photo courtesy: City of Dubuque

MURPHY PARK. Murphy Park is a recreational area in southern Dubuque named in memory of Richard Lewis MURPHY. Located along Highway 151, Murphy Park was begun in 1926 with the purchase of nine acres of ground for $2,500 from the Cooper estate. The site was deeded to the city after completion of a private subscription campaign. A second successful fund-raising campaign, conducted by Eugene ADAMS, expanded the area to twenty-five acres in 1927. The original name given to the area was Grandview Park. Other names suggested at the time included Sylvan Retreat, Hooverdale, Summer Hill, Allison Memorial, and Mississippi Heights.

The site, fronting on Highway 61, Mount Carmel Road, and South Grandview Avenue was designated as a park in 1929. A shelter, picnic tables, benches and outdoor fireplaces were constructed. Before its dedication on June 9, 1929, the park had already become a favorite spot for many local residents. Tourists enjoyed its scenic location and wilderness setting close to the city. In 1932 Grandview Park's recreational facilities were increased with the addition of a baseball diamond, tennis courts, and playground equipment. In 1933 the park featured a municipally-own and supervised tourist park, one of two TOURIST CAMPS in the city.

The tourist camp had already been removed by 1937 when a new idea was suggested. Due to the increasing use of trailers, plans were discussed to use the former site of the tourist camp as a trailer park. The DUBUQUE AUTOMOBILE CLUB secretary claimed that "trailerites are said to pay no taxes would be nore than balanced by the money they spend. The location of Dubuque as a vacation area and a gateway to locations in Wisconsin and Minnesota added to the possibilities. There was a concern that rates for the use of the trailer park should be high enough to discourage the "settling there of the nomadic groups." (1)

By 1949 some citizens expressed their opinion that the land should be sold for development. They argued against the cost of fencing the sheer bluffs to protect children, saying that playgrounds were available nearby at public and parochial schools. Overcrowding at EAGLE POINT PARK however led to the fencing, additional land being cleared, and the roadway improved to provide better access to more recreational area. In 1960 a new pavilion was built, and the old shelter was remodeled.

For many years the park has been used by HILLCREST FAMILY SERVICES for its successful fundraiser "Reflections in the Park."



1. "Trailer Park Favored Here," Telegraph-Herald, July 5, 1937, p. 2