Arboretum: A plot of land on which many different trees or shrubs are grown for study or display.
Upon the purchase of the 112 acre Running farm in 1960, Dr. Alf and Carroll Gundersen saw the opportunity to create and preserve something of lasting benefit to the coulee region. Naming it ‘High Hope Springs’, over the years, they carefully planned and brought into being a series of plantings, landscaping and other improvements that transformed the coulee farm into a park-like setting full of wildflowers, meandering streams, bubbling springs and groves of pines and special plantings. The Gundersen spring is the largest spring in La Crosse County.
A special part of the plans involved the creation of an arboretum, which they named the Helga Gundersen Arboretum in honor of Dr. Alf’s mother. The terrain features exposures in all directions and includes wetlands, prairie and woodland ecosystems with an amazing diversity of flora and fauna.
The Helga Gundersen Arboretum is home to a bronze sculpture , Zerogee II, by nationally known sculptor Paul T. Granlund. The Norskedalen newsletter from Fall 1983 contains this information: “Zerogee II depicts a mother, father and child in a flowing posture which could only be possible in a gravitiy-free environment. The sculpture is located on the High Hope Springs handicapped-accessible trail just above the waterfall pool. The sculpture was purchased by Dr. Alf Gundersen in memory of his mother, Helga.”
Dr. Alf saw the Arboretum as dedicated to “Beauty and not to utilitarian purposes.”
A lovely half-mile handicapped-accessible trail that is perfect for wheelchairs, strollers and walkers leads to the arboretum and man-made Gundersen Pond from the handicapped parking lot on the exit road. There are also benches along the route. Cars without a handicapped sticker may park along the pull off strip to the left of the exit road; those with a sticker can park in the two space handicapped-accessible parking lot, directly adjacent to the trail head.
The Gundersen Pond will be undergoing rehabilitation in 2013-16 to return it to a stream habitat with ripples and pools in order to achieve its natural ecosystem and a healthier environment for flora and fauna.
Thanks to a grant from the Paul E. Stry Foundation the seed money is in hand and other funding is being sought. If you would like to be a part of this project, please let us know.