Chester Bowl – The Northland’s Home Away from Home
NORTHLAND UNCOVERED: The park that's been around since Duluth became Duluth
DULUTH, Minn. – What’s Winter without snow, and what’s snow without skiing?
Chester Park is an outdoor haven that dates back to the late 1800’s.
“A lot of people assume the Chester Bowl was named after Chester Congdon after so many things in this town that are named after Chester Congdon, but there is a man named Charles Chester who is the original owner of the land,” park director Dave Schaeffer said.
It was originally called Garfield Park, but in the early 1890’s, residents decided they wanted a name that felt closer to home.
Thom Storm grew up at Chester after his grandfather immigrated from Norway and his father was a national champion ski jumper who trained at the park.
“1960 to 1988… Every Olympic year there was a ski jumper from Chester Park that was on the Olympic ski jumping team,” Storm, the park’s former director of 40 years said.
Storm took over Chester Bowl in 1975 and helped oversee several changes at the park like the end of ski jumping, the construction of the chair lift in 1988 and becoming a member of the park’s ski patrol program in ’89.
“I’m still doing it. I’m 69 years old. I’ve been a ski patrol member for 30 years,” Storm said.
In 2015, Storm retired as the park’s director, leaving it to its current operators Dave Schaeffer and Sam Luoma.
“Our long term goal for Chester is simply to keep people playing outside,” Schaeffer said.
Schaeffer and Luoma have plans to keep Chester Park’s programs growing including Summer concert, the annual Fall festival and giving scholarships to keep people playing outside. And in Winter, continue being the family ski hill for Duluth.
“A lot of people feel like Chester is more than a park… They feel like it’s a home to them, which is exactly what we want,” Schaeffer said.