By Cathy Ingalls, Albany Regional Museum board member
In 1958, Roberta Corbin was known to many in Albany for submitting the winning entry in a city-wide contest to name a new park east of town.
Corbin suggested “Timber Linn Park”, and the Albany Jaycees, who sponsored the World Championship Timber Carnival, announced that winning name during the queen’s coronation that year.
For her effort, Corbin won a $25 savings bond, according to Ed Loy, author of the book “Tim Burr!”, which tells the story of the long-lived but now defunct logging show.
About that time, the Jaycees were in the process of moving the Timber Carnival from its home at Waverly Lake to park land east of town because of seating, parking and building constraints placed on the lake property, which was owned by the Oregon State Highway Department, Loy said.
The Jaycees agreed to pay for improvements to the new 75-acre park with a lake as the centerpiece in return for exclusive use of the park during the Timber Carnival. The first event was held in 1959.
Since that time, the regional park at 900 Price Road SE, has become a major draw for festivals, concerts and social, sporting, and veterans’ memorial events.
Now known as Timber-Linn Memorial Park, it is the largest developed park in Albany at 100.14 acres, said Rick Barnett, the city’s parks and facilities maintenance manager. The other two big parks are Bryant at 71.74 acres and Bowman with 26 acres.
The three largest undeveloped or lightly-developed parks are Simpson Park, 177 acres; Takena Landing, 133 acres; and the Oak Creek Green Belt, 100 acres.
In 1957, property for Timber-Linn was acquired by the city from Paul and Irma Norman, George and Phyllis Shoemate, John A. and Margaret Boock and C.H. and Della Nafziger.
In September 1973, the city paid John J. Johnson for his land, and in October of that year, more property was acquired from William and J.R. Hines.
“The deeds are pretty hazy but mostly readable,” according Marilyn Smith, spokesperson for the city. “I did not see any restriction such as for use as a public park in perpetuity or anything else.”
As the park expanded, so did its amenities. Those include a basketball court, dog park, disc golf, fishing area, horseshoes, playground, picnic tables, restrooms, shelters and an amphitheater.
Perhaps one of the biggest draws to the park is the veterans’ memorial area that boasts a 155-millimeter howitzer. The cannon was donated to the community by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve because the then-antiquated gun had to be mounted on trains to be moved from place to place while new armaments were self-driven.
The older howitzers were primarily used in the South Pacific during World War II to shell Japanese positions before troops were sent in.
For safety reasons, the Marines welded the 30,600-pound gun’s moving parts so that visitors couldn’t injure themselves while examining it.
The howitzer is in a memorial area that replaced one constructed in 1968. The walkway at the memorial features sidewalks that form a concrete outline of the state of Oregon.
The site was prepared using mostly donated labor, materials and equipment. Bricks with names of members of the military who are missing or lost their lives in the nation’s wars serve as sentries for the names on other bricks of people who served from Linn County and came home.
Flags from all branches of the service fly at the site.
For more information about the park’s facilities, call Albany Parks & Recreation, 541-917-7777.
More detailed information about the Albany Timber Carnival and its history at Timber Linn Memorial Park can be found in Ed Loy’s “Tim Burr!” book available at the Albany Regional Museum.
The museum is located at 136 Lyon St. S and is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.
The phone number is 541-967-7122, and the website address is www.armuseum.com.