By Cris Cawthon
As I strolled through Foundation Park early one brisk morning, I couldn’t help but notice the crew of men who were working to keep the park maintained.
Foundation Park has a beautiful scenic view and so many wonderful areas of the park are used for venues and recreational enjoyment. Foundation Park has always been like an oasis tucked away in Centralia with its tranquil atmosphere.
Foundation Park was established in 1946 when Verne E. Joy, former publisher of the Centralia Sentinel, gave a contribution for the establishment of the park along with ideas for its design. Roy Ross made the first dirt roads with his grater. Paul Stover, (park superintendent at the time) and his father, Hollie B. Stover (city engineer at the time) carried out the development of the park and added several additions during their years as overseers.
The park is now around 300 acres with 140 of that being made up of trees for that typical nature look.
Park Superintendent David Sachtleben and his crew, Larry Fark, Chris Bost, Ron Hacker and several others have taken great strides to keep the park preserved. David has put in many hours to continue the growth of the park. David and his wife Stephanie (daughter of Paul Stover) want to continue the park’s wonderful legacy of giving us all a safe family gathering place.
There are many features of Foundation Park that David has helped to establish and restore. Places such as Spieth Meadows, Paul Stover Arboretum with 68 identifiable trees labeled, the restored prairie that has native Illinois plants, restored wetlands, 36-hole disc golfing, and the Chapel in The Woods.
Some of the functions and activities held at Foundation Park year-round are, Balloon Fest, cross country meets, Boy Scout and Girl Scout troop meetings, Fantasy of Lights, traditional Christmas scenery, bike riding, fishing at Catfish Pond, the unicursal labyrinth, picnics, snow sledding down Robnett Hill also known as Stover’s Hill, and hiking.
Foundation Park has three shelters that were constructed from generous contributions. Harris Shelter is one of the most recent shelters and was dedicated in memory of Edgar Harris, Lt. Col., USAF; Lillian Harris; and their son Robert Harris, Lt., USN, who was killed in Vietnam. The Sentinel Shelter and Miner’s Memorial Shelter were established at the beginning of the park development. The Miner’s Memorial Shelter was built in memory of the 111 miners that were killed in the No. 5 mine disaster in 1947. These shelters provide a place for birthday parties, family get togethers and are equipped with firepits or grills.
Foundation Park would not be what it is today without the help of Park Superintendent David Sachtleben, his staff, and donations bequeathed to the Park.