Friends of Swede Hollow (FOSH) formed in 1994 when a number of interested neighbors from both sides of Swede Hollow came together to discuss our common goals, deep affection for and commitment to the park, as well as our dreams, ideas, concerns, and the history of Swede Hollow. Other dedicated Swede Hollow supporters have joined the group since then. Many members of FOSH have been involved in Swede Hollow since the early 1970s when Swede Hollow Park was in the early stages of development, as members of the Swede Hollow Task Force. The driving forces were Olivia Dodge at that time President of the Saint Paul Garden Club, other garden club members, East Side residents, and Saint Paul Parks Department staff. 

FOSH has monthly meeting, planning and orchestrating a number of clean ups and work days in the park, oral history sessions with former Swede Hollow residents, working with school children, the Historic Hamm’s Brewery Initiative, started the Lower Phalen Creek Project, history tours, and the annual Watch the Glow Event. 

Founding of FOSH

Friends of Swede Hollow (FOSH) was started by a number of neighbors interested in improving Swede Hollow Park, because: 

  • We want to be proactive to park issues rather then reactive.
  • We realize that the Saint Paul Parks and Recreation Department can not watch over or care for the park the way that neighbors can.
  • We are aware that limited public funds are available for parks, and our group continues to look into other funds and other ways of doing park improvements. 

  • Mission
    To protect and regenerate the natural beauty and ecology of Swede Hollow and remember its past, so neighbors and visitors can learn from and enjoy this historic wilderness with in the City of Saint Paul.


    The goals of FOSH are to:
    • Protect and enhance the natural beauty and history of Swede Hollow Park and area around Swede Hollow
    • Restore native vegetation and reintroduce native wildlife to Swede Hollow Park
    • Watch over and care for the Swede Hollow Park
    • Be proactive to park issues and work with the Saint Paul Parks and Recreation Department
    • Foster community engagement in the ecological stewardship of the park
    • Develop leadership that will carry on our mission
    • Seek National register of Historic Places designation for entire park
    • Work to save, protect the history, and improve areas near Swede Hollow Park like the Hamm Brewery, Lower Phalen Creek area, and the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary.

    Brief History of Swede Hollow

    Swede Hollow is nestled between the Dayton's Bluff and Railroad Island communities in the ravine that once carried Phalen Creek to the Mississippi River. The first settler to the picturesque valley was Edward Phalen in 1841. He sold his claim in 1844 to William Dugus who built Saint Paul's first sawmill on the creek. Other businesses followed and in 1865 the first train rolled through the valley heading to Duluth. 

    The early industry attracted Swedish immigrants who settled just south of the industrial area and   named the valley Svenska Dalen or Swede Hollow. As the Swedish moved "up onto the street", other immigrant people moved into the homes: the Polish, Italian and then the Spanish Americans.

    Gentille Yarusso lived in the Hollow in the 1920's and wrote "We children often wondered why our people chose this enchanted place to settle in. Why not somewhere else? As we got older we knew; they chose this place because they were with their own countrymen, with familiar faces, family noises, gestures, facial expressions. They selected this enchanted landscape because it resembled the place they had left behind. They loved the hills, the trees, the stream, the security of friends and relatives." 

    In December 1956, the city Health Department discovered that Swede Hollow had no sewer or city water service and declared the Hollow a health hazard. The last 14 families were moved out and the remaining homes destroyed. Ideas for the property at that time included filling it in for industrial use, bridging it for use as part of the highway 212 project, or making it a city park. 

    Swede Hollow Park Background

    Talk of making Swede Hollow a park can be traced back to 1900, when Park Commissioner William Hamm was trying to get fellow commissioners in favor of Swede Hollow becoming a city park in memory of his father Theodore Hamm, founder of the brewery in the north end of the Hollow.  It did not happen at that time, but over the years the park idea resurfaced a number of times. Then in 1973, neighborhood residents and the Saint Paul Garden Club began working with the Saint Paul Parks Department to make Swede Hollow a city park. We have been collecting many photos and much information throughout all of the stages of development of the park. Much work has been completed on Swede Hollow Park, and the Bruce Vento Regional Trail now connects Swede Hollow,  Phalen Park and the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary.   In the years to come the Bruce Vento Traill will connect north with the Willard Munger recreational trail, which will connect Saint Paul to Duluth and south through the Bruce Vento Nature Sancturay to the Mississippi River.

    The community has a number of ideas for long range improvement projects that are currently under discussion: 

  • Restore native vegetation and reintroduce native wildlife to the park.
  • Continue to develop this Historic Forest.
  • Establish a forest management plan with the Saint  Paul Parks Department and the State Department of Natural Resources.
  • Become a living science laboratory for neighborhood school children,  local residents, Metropolitan State University and the Science Museum.
  • Daylight Phalen Creek using water from Lake Phalen when available. Open creek where possible from Lake Phalen to the River.
  • Repair and maintain existing remaining walls, tunnels and former railroad infrastructure.
  • Continue historical research.
  • Install unobtrusive markers on historic sites. 
  • Seek National Register of Historic Places designation for entire park.
  • Replicate the Schaber Family Mill in Swede Hollow Park as a historic marker. 
  • Relocate cellular phone towers. 
  • Connect Swede Hollow and the Bruce Vento Regional Trail to the river through the Bruce Vento Natture Sanctuary.
  • Improve image and use of Swede Hollow. 
  • Children learning & art program in park.

    If you have any ideas please let us know. We welcome new members or anyone wishing to visit our meetings or participate in our projects. For more information please call Karin at 651-776-0550.


    Yes, you can help. 

    Here is a list of some of the things we do. You maybe interested in one or several: 

  • Planting trees and plants 
  • Park restoration 
  • Clean up the park 
  • Work with Children 
  • Oral history 
  • Research 
  • Informational meetings 
  • Planning meetings 

  • Call Karin at 651-776-0550 or email and she will be happy to help you find the right activities for you.

    Volunteers are essential and appreciated.