May 26, 2023 | By: Mary Balstad

Fosston Community Works to Preserve Historic Rock Wall

Rural historic landmarks are falling into disrepair, and some communities are looking to solve this problem.

Fosston is one such community that is currently raising funds and awareness around preserving the rock wall that was built along US Highway 2 during President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal program. Under the National Youth Administration agency, the wall was built in 1941 and engaged youth and young adults from ages 16-25.

But after decades of wear and tear, time is starting to show through the holes left on this piece of history. The structure is located in front of Fosston High School, and some of that school’s alumni say the state the wall’s currently in can be dangerous.

“They’ve got it built up,” said Sherry Olson Wyman, a Fosston High School alumna from 1979. “It really needs to be fixed up because it’s such an icon.”

But the repairs will not come without much deliberations and cost.

“Over the years it’s been talked about,” explained Fosston Mayor Jim Offerdahl. “[The city is] anticipating the repair costs to be $25,000.”

But with the estimate being years old now and due to inflation, that price tag could be up to a possible $30,000. The city did discuss possibly removing the wall altogether at one point, but public input changed their minds.

Despite only stretching a small portion of Highway 2, this small rock wall is a big landmark for the city of Fosston. The community is now working to preserve it for both personal and practical purposes. One use is for the high school when students are outside during lunch break.

“It does provide a safety barrier from Highway 2,” said Offerdahl. “Many, many thousands of people have spent time at or near or viewing this historic wall.”

Citizens have already taken action to preserve this piece of history through a GoFundMe page.

“I don’t want to be a part of a generation that did not value what has come before,” said Lorrie Fjerstad, a 1976 Fosston High School alumna. “Not on our watch. Let’s get these things preserved. Let’s get these things rebuilt. They could be here for another 100 years.”

The city hopes to have the wall fixed by the all-school reunion in early July. The school is also in talks with the city about contributing toward the fundraising. Donations can be sent to Fosston City Hall or made through the GoFundMe campaign.

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