On Section 20, of Sioux township, in Lyon County, IA, many children and adults of the area went sledding on the hill that seemed to be made for many groups to enjoy when it became snow covered. In my lifetime it was known as “Elmer’s (Swanson) Hill". Elmer Swanson was my Great Uncle, a brother to my Grandma Phoebe. The hill, next to a little valley where Blood Run Creek traveled on it's way to the Sioux River, wasn't far from the house where they grew up and about a mile from my childhood home (as the bird flies).
Families, churches, schools, neighbors and groups of friends found themselves sledding there, enjoying the thrill of the speed down the hill and the warmth from many bonfires built at the top. There was an area near the gravel road that you had to stay away from because of rocks and rough terrain but a few yards to the west, the hill was a treasure to coast down. In later years I remember Dad and neighbor Eddie Hildring bringing their snowmobiles there, to give rides back to the top of the hill. Not far away were ruts in the land where the old stagecoach trail once was. A place of history in more ways that one.
Eventually a fence was put at the bottom, after the land was sold, and the hill became silent after decades of laughter and screams of excitement. If you listen closely you may still hear the sounds of laughter from memories of your own sledding days.
My Grandmother wrote this poem in January 1966, about the hill and adventures down it, remembering the hill when her father owned the land.
by Phoebe (Swanson) Johnson
Yes, we had fun and many a thrill, As bravely we would interlock, When coasting down steep Pasture Hill.
Though sometimes we would take a spill, We dared again for one more shock... Yes, we had fun and many a thrill.
We never suffered any ill - Perhaps a tear in pant or frock... When speeding down that perilous hill.
To steer the sled took grit and skill, As steel flashed fire on hidden rock... Yes it was fun - How we did thrill!
A long pull up for Jack and Jill, Then swiftly down to scare the cock, While coasting on the Pasture Hill.
When nighttime came and all was still, Said Little Nod to Blinkum Block, “Yes, we had fun and many a thrill, When coasting down steep Pasture Hill.”