Backbone State Park Celebrates 100th Anniversary

Backbone State Park celebrated its 100th anniversary on Friday.

The event was originally scheduled for late May, with a big three-day community celebration planned – but COVID-19 guidelines led organizers to postpone the event, with just a small private dedication held instead.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds was there to speak at the brief ceremony, along with several others, including longtime Manchester resident Mike Carr. Carr is the grandson of E.M. Carr, who gave the original land to the State of Iowa for its first state park. One hundred years ago on May 20, 1920, his grandfather welcomed a crowd of about six thousand people to Backbone State Park’s dedication.

Carr says Backbone was like his second home growing up, with a lot of good memories.

Along with the trails, Backbone State Park has a lake, a beach, an auditorium, cabins and plenty of camping space. And the state park is lucky to have the Friends of Backbone volunteers supporting them with projects and fundraising. Roger Helmrichs is a member of the Friends of Backbone group.

To celebrate the park’s centennial, Helmrichs says they’re putting together a time capsule for Backbone to open 100 years from now in 2120.

The time capsule will give future generations an idea of what Backbone means to local residents – and lately, it’s been a saving grace for those looking to relax in the midst of a public health emergency and be able to enjoy recreational opportunities while still social distancing in the outdoors.

Backbone State Park Ranger Dave Sunne says the COVID-19 pandemic has brought more people to state parks in 2020.

And he’s hoping Backbone will continue to bring memories for another hundred years.

A new sign was unveiled at the south entrance of Backbone on Friday too – you can find that video on our KMCH Facebook page.




photos courtesy of Janelle Tucker/KMCH