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Arthur J. Gerk Arboretum

ARTHUR J. GERK ARBORETUM

Gerk Arboretum Entrance Sign, courtesy of Linda See

The Arthur J. Gerk Arboretum is located within the Georgia Hanford Park on the southeastern side of Mason City. The Arboretum has two entrances, South Pennsylvania Avenue and South Massachusetts Avenue. The Arboretum is 39 acres and has 1.6 miles of winding, paved pathways.  View a map of the pathways located in the Arboretum.

According to the Arboretum’s namesake, Arthur Gerk, the purpose of the Arboretum is to create a place where trees can be displayed and people can enjoy and identify them.

The Arboretum has more than 400 trees and shrubs, including 70 species of trees. Many of the trees have signs identifying both the common and scientific names.

Snowy Evergreens Gerk Arboretum



The oldest trees were planted in the late 1980s and early 1990s. These trees include: a grove of giant White Poplar near the west entrance; windrows of evergreens and conifers near the north entrance; more than a dozen Linden, including Redmond, American and Greenspire, on the southeastern section; and showcased in the center of the Arboretum is a variety of trees native to Iowa and other unique specimen trees.


 


Photo courtesy of Linda See


On the eastern end there is a bird and butterfly sanctuary, surrounded by Crimson King and Amur Maples, Russian Olive and several beautiful Arbor Vitae.
Colorful Maples Gerk Arboretum, courtesy of Linda See

On a typical day, Arboretum visitors include young parents pushing strollers, grandparents playing hide-and-go-seek with grandchildren and pet owners enjoying a leisurely stroll.

In 1913, Sergeant Joyce Kilmer wrote:

“I think I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree…”


We hope you agree after touring the Arthur J. Gerk Arboretum.
Photo courtesy of Linda See

HISTORY of the ARTHUR J. GERK ARBORETUM

1963:
The Georgia Hanford Park was a gift from the MacNider family;

 1963-1990:
The land was farmed by Terry Gobeli;

 1972:
A bypass channel and a man-made pond were created;

 1988:
Four senior students (Mark Adkins, Eric Dahle, Eric Dralle and Mark Vitosh) in the Department of Forestry at Iowa State University develop a master plan for a proposed arboretum;

 1990:
The Mason City Park Board approves placing 39 acres of the Georgia Hanford Park into CPR acres for 10 years;

 1993:
The Park Department applies for a REAP grant to help fund improvements throughout the Park;

 1994:
Trail construction begins and the parking lot is paved;

 Sept.12, 1999:
In a public ceremony, Mayor Bill Schickel presides over the dedication of the “Arthur J. Gerk Arboretum”. Gerk co-founded River City Trees. He was a tireless community volunteer who deeply cared about the natural environment;

 2000: 
Arthur Gerk and his wife, Anita Gerk, create a donor-advised fund “to provide for the ongoing maintenance, support, care and preservation of the arboretum”; and

 2005-present: 
Since Arthur Gerk’s death in 2005 the majority of the funding for the trees and shrubs has been provided by the Gerk Arboretum Fund. Prior to 2005, trees had been purchased through grants and other funding.

Red Fox Gerk Arboretum, courtesy of Linda See




Donations are welcome and may be sent to:
Arthur J. Gerk Arboretum Fund
% The Mason City Foundation
308 S. Pennsylvania Avenue
Mason City, IA 50401







Photo courtesy of Linda See
       
       
       
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