Former landfill a place of memories

Liz Bos

Liz Bos

Students move through the city of Brookings every year with each new class at SDSU, but Larson Hill remains a favorite spot to go sledding. As a lifelong resident of Brookings, I have always associated the hill with downhill sledding and the bloody aftermath of said sledding activities. While I personally have only been sledding there a few times, it was a popular place for my older brothers and their friends to go sledding back in the day, and I do have good memories of activities surrounding it.

As for sledding itself, I remember an incident involving my brother John sledding down the hill at a high rate of speed and almost hitting the fence at the bottom of the hill. His sled may or may not have tipped over in his attempts to avoid impact. Of course, such things seem more perilous when you’re 8 compared to when you’re 23, but it was funny nonetheless.

John, an SDSU alumnus, also remembered the days before barriers were put up at the bottom of the hill to prevent sledders from sliding into the street. In those days, you could slide down the east side of the hill and go across the street or even farther if you were traveling fast enough, which no doubt put the fear of God into more than one intrepid sledder or even a few drivers. This inevitably led to contests to see who could slide the furthest, which is about the time the city started piling up snow at the bottom of the hill to keep people from sliding into the street. John also recalled the time our father pushed him down the hill and right into a tree (on a sled) when he was about 3. Ah, memories.

My other brother, Chris, who graduated from SDSU in 2007, also had fond memories of “crazy” exploits at Larson Hill. He mentioned watching multiple people piled on tractor tubes to go down the hill. Some even slid down in giant cardboard boxes.

“After it was worn down and really icy, you could slide down on just about anything,” Chris said. “One time we pushed a picnic table up to the top and we all rode the picnic table down the hill.” However, the table didn’t slide very well, he said, because there were three or four people riding on it and it kept digging into the ice, or possibly because the designers didn’t have downhill sledding in mind when they built it. He even slid down the hill on nothing but his boots once because it was so icy.

I do have fond memories of visiting Larson Park at other times. My crowning achievement at Larson Hill took place in the spring of 2001. During a high school gym class outing to the park, I managed to ride my bike all the way up the hill without stopping – a hard feat at the time since the east side of the hill is fairly steep compared to the west side. Of course, my enjoyment of that incident may be lessened slightly by the fact that my bike was stolen a day or two later, but I digress. I’d tried riding up the hill without stopping multiple times before with friends, but was never successful until that warm spring day. I never found my stolen bike, though.

Chris topped that achievement easily, however – one spring he and three of his friends actually drove a car over Larson Hill, probably mystifying later passersby who saw the tire tracks.

Larson Hill, popular sledding locale for children and college students everywhere, was formerly the city landfill before it was covered over and turned into a park in ages past. That’s right – each time you coast down its snowy slope, you could be sliding over someone’s trashed refrigerator, broken ceiling fan or discarded 8-track player. Keep that in mind should you ever decide you want to dig a hole to China … at least in that part of town.