“The area where Highway 20 is, it goes right up the middle of our hay field,” she says. Roberta remembers a small rodeo ground down by Squirrel Creek where the local folks would put on the rodeos. The old two-story Dikeman house stood where the rest rooms are today. “My father-in-law burned it down because it was dangerous,” says Roberta, who remembers with fondness the gigantic old French lilac tree that grew by the house. “It was just beautiful.” She also remembers a swinging foot bridge that spanned Squirrel Creek by the house. “I took my babies down there.” It was good place to contemplate, she remembers. “I always loved it.”
In 1971, Boise Cascade, developers of the Lake wildwood community, donated the land which was to become Western Gateway Park to Nevada County, along with $175,000, with the stipulation that it be used for recreational use only. The terms stated that if the land was not developed after fie years, it would have to be returned to Boise Cascade. The deadline was met, thanks to the heroic efforts of a number of community-mi8nded individuals, including Gene Hatton, Larry Filer, Carl Fiesel, Harold Berliner, Helen Avery and Lois Gordon, to name a few.
Through the years, many others have joined the swelling ranks of park supporters who have served in a variety of ways they’ve helped at countless fund-raisers. They’ve contributed sweat and muscle power. They’ve built an impressive performing arts pavilion. They’ve lobbied for voter support of tax measures for park funding. They’ve opened their checkbooks and their hearts. At one point in the early 80s, in the wake of a failed tax measure that would have provided funding, supporters rallied to keep the park gates open. “We took our chairs and sat at the park entrance and collected $2 for the park,” remembers Pat Riley, who supported the park it its early days and supports it today as a member of the park board.
Western Gateway Park today is in good shape, says Riley, and the future looks brighter than ever before. An enthusiastic park board, as well as a newly formed Gateway Performing Art Pavilion Committee, is actively exploring ways of enhancing Western Gateway Park’s beauty and harnessing its boundless potential.