Burns Park

Burns Park - Photo by CindyThomberg

Burns Park is one of the largest municipal parks in the country with 1,700 acres. It features a log cabin which was built and used as a store prior to the Civil War; a covered bridge; handicapped-accessible fishing pier; camping area; two 18-hole golf courses; two 18-hole disc golf courses; baseball; softball complex; 17 soccer fields; 27 tennis courts (6 indoor); hiking trails; equestrian trails; amusement park, 3-acre dog park and more.

Recently 125 acres were added to the soccer complex area to make Burns Park 1,700 acres.

History: Named after Dr. William Milton Burns who practiced medicine for 50 years, beginning in 1912, and was elected mayor in 1919 and 1923. He was dedicated to helping the youth in the community and served many years on the school board. It is estimated that Dr. Burns delivered 8,000 babies in his career.

In 1948, he started a drive to buy 879 acres of land called the River Reservation from the U.S. Government. In 1949, the city council appropriated $20,000 for the purchase with a pledge to make a $1,000 a year in improvements. Dr. Burns headed up the Park Committee and with volunteer help started clearing brush and building pavilions and picnic areas. Even though past retirement age he helped build the lake and covered bridge to provide a place for kids to fish.
It was no surprise that in April 1950, Mayor Ross Lawhon declared the city park would be named Burns Park. More land was bought and many more improvements were made with the help of men like Joe Poch, Mayor William F. “Casey” Laman, Charles Boyer and many others. In 1955 a second grant of 656 acres from the northern part of Fort Roots completed the 1,575 acre plot of land. A granite memorial was made in Dr. Burns memory and placed at the entrance to the Park on Military Drive in 1968.