Living in Great Falls, we all know and love Gibson Park.  It's rare to have something so beautiful and welcoming right in the middle of the city.

Stone walkway and flowerbeds at Gibson Park Great Falls Montana
Tammie Toren
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What I didn't know was the changes Gibson Park has been through since it's inception.  The History Museum has a cool write up about it, and I wanted to share with you what I learned.

Gibson Park Was Not The Original Name

It was first named Cascade Park, but it was renamed after Paris Gibson in 1903.

The City of Great Falls Called It "The Jewel Of The Park System"

The trees, flower garden and pond set Gibson Park apart from most parks in that day. Gibson Park was known for it's beauty.

In It's Earliest Days, Gibson Park Was A Zoo.  Sort Of.

According to The History Museum:

deer, antelope, and elk were kept in enclosures at the north end of the park. City residents got a chance to see these animals up close for the first time, however the park staff were reminded that the park attractions were in fact, very much wild animals.

In reading the article, it looks like someone actually paid to have squirrels sent to Great Falls for people to see at Gibson Park.  They escaped their enclosure, and they ordered two more.  I can't help but wonder if the squirrels we see in the park are the ancestors of the original squirrels someone paid to bring here.

There Was A Birdpocolypse At Gibson Park

The History Museum tells this story:

In 1973 a female mute swan was killed and stripped of her feathers, her body left abandoned in a nearby alley. Her mate, Adolph, went on a rampage the following spring and again in 1975, that time killing a whistling swan and damaging another. Adolph was sent to Livingston for rehabilitation and successfully re-mated.

In 1974 the two swans were replaced by the purchase of Billie and Buster, but again, in 1982, the swans were preyed upon by an individual who killed the female swan, tore off her wings, and allegedly ate her.

After this horrifying scenario, the park manager suggested that the park get rid of swans all together.  The public reacted so strongly flooding the city with letters, that the park manager changed his mind.

Duck Pond with fountain at Gibson Park, Great Falls Montana
Tammie Toren

Who knew?  I LOVE finding out these cool little tidbits on the history of our lovely little Montana River town.

A big thanks to The History Museum just for being here and preserving this history.  We're so lucky to have you.

Take a tour of Gibson Park here 👇👇

Gibson Park, Great Falls, Montana

Gibson Park

Gallery Credit: Tammie Toren

Carousel Rest Area Of Shelby, Montana

Carousel Rest Area Of Shelby

Gallery Credit: Tammie Toren

Fish Native To Great Falls Montana

Fish Native To Great Falls Montana

Gallery Credit: Tammie Toren

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