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Gravel pit turned to sled hill

News Photo by Crystal Nelson A sign marks the entrance of the Caledonia Public Downhill Sledding Park on Saturday off of Spruce Road near Olson Road in Spruce.

SPRUCE — A long-time gravel pit has been transformed into a sledding hill at the corner of Spruce Road and Olson Road in Spruce.

Park goers can choose to sled down six different hills.

Caledonia Township Supervisor Cyndi Apsey said the Caledonia Public Downhill Sledding Park opened in January after a group of community volunteers helped clean up and clear trees from the sledding hills. Apsey said the township has owned the property since the 1980s, but it was previously used by people for target practice.

The idea for the sledding hill came out of necessity, she said, as families in the area needed somewhere to go sledding.

“So many times I see on Facebook where can we go sledding, where can we go sledding, where can we go sledding,” she said. “Out here a lot of people use Hickey Hill, but it’s actually private property and the road is a private road.”

News Photo by Crystal Nelson Briley Carstens of Ossineke sleds down a hill at the Caledonia Public Downhill Sledding Park on Saturday in Spruce.

Lincoln residents Paul and Colleen Somers, along with their four kids, were among more than a dozen people utilizing the sledding hill on Saturday. Paul Somers said they hadn’t been to the sledding hill before, but they came because it was their daughter’s birthday.

“There’s not many places to go sledding,” he said. “It’s our first time trying it out. I didn’t realize there were this many different hills.”

Birthday girl Jordyn Somers said she liked the hill “because it’s fast.”

Just before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Apsey said the township board allowed her to move forward with the project. She said the only cost to the township was to purchase the sign for the park.

She said a number of contractors and community members voluntarily brought bulldozers, skid-steer loaders, brush grabbers, and backhoes to make the sledding hills.

News Photo by Crystal Nelson Several sledding enthusiasts climb up the hill Saturday at the Caledonia Public Downhill Sledding Park in Spruce.

“Within a matter of a couple of hours, we had all of the garbage out. We still have work to do, but we tried to make it so there was nothing for the kids to run into,” she said.

Apsey said a fire pit was donated to the sledding park and that they also received a donated sled shack, where park goers can borrow sleds and return them when they are done. She said there were concerns at first that the sleds would be stolen, however, she said she hasn’t had that happen yet.

But she has seen a number of sleds broken because of how much use they are getting, although many of those broken sleds have already been replaced.

“I think when a community does a community project they respect it more and take care of it,” she said.

Apsey said when the season is over, she would like to make the sledding hills a little more pronounced so that kids cannot veer off of them when they are sledding. She would also like to see a picnic table added to the park.

News Photo by Crystal Nelson The sled shack, home to an assortment of donated sleds, is pictured on Saturday at the Caledonia Public Downhill Sledding Park in Spruce.

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