The green jewel of Melrose -- Mt. Hood

sit back, relax and enjoy this gem

by Debbi Collar

Whether your recreational style is an active one or inactive, Mt. Hood in
Melrose suits all.

Mt.Hood's rolling hills
Myron Dittmer is one of the voices of the Mt. Hood Park Association and  
travels to various locations with an historic presentation of the park.
Newcomers to the city of Melrose will enjoy learning its history as well as
learn of the trails throughout.

Myron Dittmer Jr., President of the  Mt. Hood Park Association Board of

The park itself is one of the oldest in the State. It has been called, "the green
jewel of Melrose."  Dates, times, and locations of Dittmer's presentations will
be announced throughout the year. Discussing the historical aspect of the
park, he points out that it is the largest green area in Melrose, being at the
south-eastern section of the city. The area was hilly and pretty barren in

Publications state that Indians (native Americans) once used the highest part
of the park for communication signals.

photo courtesy of Mt. Hood Park Association

The area also boasts of its "1st, 2nd, 3rd and long ponds." Bird watchers can
also enjoy the park and a variety of wildlife has been seen there as well.  

Mt. Hood, as it is known to area residents now, almost vanished on several
occasions. What began as a 25 acre site has grown to 235 acres. Owned first
by Wendell Hood, the park was purchased by John Slayton in 1907. Slayton
built a wood-frame tower at its summit along with an access road. That
tower was destroyed by fire and eventually replaced by another stone tower
which remains there today.

Also on the park grounds now, a golf course, hiking trails, a 2 1/2 mile bike
trail, a tot lot (playground), historic landmarks and spectacular panoramic
views of the area's surrounding communities, the Atlantic Ocean and, "on a
clear day," according to Dittmer, "you can see as far as the White Mountains
in New Hampshire."

Several times other events almost claimed the park. Meeting in the Melrose
Library conference room, Dittmer discussed a variety of past events which
now make up the park's history.

There was a fire in the original wooden structure named Slayton Tower.

On September 25th of 1945, California native, Major Doake Weston gave his
life to save the lives of his five man crew in a B25 bomber. He told his crew
to bail out when its engine caught fire.In doing so, he not only saved the
lives of his crew but the lives of many who lived in Melrose and its
surrounding communities. A memorial bench and a marker were recently
placed at the site where a stone "castle" known as "Slayton Tower" stands.

Inscription on bench "Greater love than this hath no man than a man lay
down his life for his friends."

At one time, in the 1970s, the City considered Mt. Hood as a potential site
for a new high school.

The Mt. Hood Park Association then and now continues to "promote, protect
and preserve" Mt. Hood."  Dittmer, formerly of East Boston and Chelsea,
moved to the Melrose area in the 1970s. The Association has been in
existence since 1971.

At that time, the oldest park in the state almost became the site of what was
then being considered as a site for a new high school. Yet, the efforts and
determination of Mt. Hood Park Association persisted then and now as they
continue to encourage residents of the city and of surrounding communities
not only to participate in the use of the golf course but to enjoy the 235 acre
site where all can enjoy the it's beauty and learn about its history.


Walter W. Bruce, 1920s, Alderman and proponent of establishment,
convinced the City of its worth.  Bruce is called the Father of Mt. Hood

Rogers Hall, dedicated to George Rogers, the former and first Superintendent
of Mt. Hood who passed away in 1934 before the completion of the park and
golf course. Dittmer describes the clubhouse and Golf Association as "the  
goose that laid the golden egg saying, "that's where the city makes money,
on food and golf carts."

Ralph Sarni -  A patio was dedicated to Ralph Sarni last July. "He (Sarni) was
the founding member of the Mt. Hood Park Association and considered
responsible for saving the park. "In the 1980s, the park was in disrepair."The
Mass Golf Association worked out a deal with Melrose releasing the city from
fundamental upkeep. Sarni saved the park two times. At one time there was
consideration to build a high school on the property."

Roland Hancock was the first Pro golfer on the course

Hillside view of Boston's Skyline from Mt. Hood

Currently there is a "5 year Open space plan," that was just finalized. It
includes upgrades to the park including making Mt. Hood more accessible
for those with and without physical limitations.

Mt. Hood's Tot Lot

Dittmer, a former Army Veteran (Vietnam) and current pharmaceutical
consultant with a biology background from Northeastern University, says the
Mt. Hood Park Association also credits The Golf Association and Mayor
Robert Dolan for their input and interest in keeping the area accessible to
the public as well as golfers who use the 18 hole course.

Culturally, the Park Association combines with area organizations providing
three events a year.

1. Senior Day (free) coordinated with Dawn Folopoulos, Director at the
Milano Senior Center

2. July 4th Concert at Mr. Hood

3. The Children's holiday/Home for the Holidays at Mt. Hood

"The park is open to those of all ages and not just to those from the Melrose
area. Dittmer warns cyclists to take caution as "it (the trail) is still very ledgy."
Hikers and cross country skiers can enjoy the walking/ski trails on the
property and those searching for a relaxing day can enjoy the ponds (1st,
2nd, 3rd and long pond) along with the surrounding flora and fauna, while
golfers continue to enjoy the greens. There are also picnic areas to enjoy.

Although the park can be enjoyed each season, the autumn months bring
out the best views of fall foliage throughout the New England area.

The park is open from 6:30 to dusk.

Pack a picnic lunch and bring a camera.

September 4, 2015


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