clay county histories
Markus Krueger | Program Director HCSCC
Gooseberry Mound Park is one of the gems of the Moorhead Parks System, but before the city bought this 45-acre oxbow in the Red River, it was a farm that sometimes swarmed with Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Campfire Girls. Those scouts left a lasting legacy here but the memory of Camp Martin has faded from all but a few of Moorhead residents.
It was probably Boy Scouts in the 1930s who gave this place its name. According to the reminiscences of the famous naturalist Olaus Murie (1889-1963), Moorhead kids called this oxbow Bosshard’s Bend in the opening years of the 1900s. The park’s lawn used to be fields of vegetables grown by Herman Bosshard and his nephew Lawrence Morgan, who lived at the top of the hill by the modern entrance to the park. In May of 1927, Moorhead’s three Boy Scout troops held their annual meeting at Bosshard’s farm and thanked him for letting them build a cabin they called Camp Martin. The Girl Scouts and Campfire Girls held meetings at Camp Martin, too.
Who was Martin? We are not certain, but our hunch is it was named for Martin Murie, one of Moorhead’s first Scout leaders who tragically died of tuberculosis at age 30 in 1922. His sister Clara was an early leader of either the Girl Scouts or Campfire Girls. His surviving brothers Olaus and Adolph Murie became two of the most important conservationists and wildlife biologists in American history, but that’s another story.
The scouts of Camp Martin are probably all over 80 today. As a scout leader, former Moorhead mayor Mark Voxland met a lot of old Boy Scouts who are no longer with us. Arnie Strom once told him that in the late 1930s, the highlight of the year would be the annual May hike along the river from Trinity Lutheran to Camp Martin. Mr. Strom said they called the place Gooseberry Mountain because there were gooseberries growing in the woods that slope down to the riverbank.
Old friends Jim Lavold and Dale Anderson visited the camp as Boy Scouts in the 1940s, though the name Camp Martin may have been dropped by then. They recalled it was a small cabin made of rough cut lumber, maybe 12×14 feet, with two small windows. Mr. Anderson fondly remembers spending weekends there learning lessons and camping in subzero temperatures, with one scout staying up through the night to keep the fire going so they didn’t freeze. Mr. Anderson told me he recently drove through Gooseberry Park trying to figure out where exactly it was but could not place it. Both believe it was on the north side of the path, on the hill outside of the tree line, perhaps near the picnic shelter. It was likely used into the 1950s.
If anyone knows more, our historical society and local scout troops would love to hear from you.