outdoors: Loose Park: rich with history

Joey Hill

Locally, Loose park is known as the location of the Battle of Westport in 1864, which involved more than 30,000 soldiers and resulted in more than 3,000 casualties. The Missouri State Capitol mural in Jefferson City depicts the battle.

Named after Jacob L. Loose owner of the Loose-Wiles Biscuit Company, Loose Park was originally used as a golf course by the Kansas City Country Club until it was bought in 1927 by Loose’s wife Ella. She transformed it into a park dedicated to her husband, who passed away in 1923.

In 1931, construction began on the Laura Conyers Smith Rose Garden, an aspect considered by many to be a hallmark of the park. The garden was initially built by a group of citizens led by Smith herself. During construction, the group created the Kansas City Rose Society, which still exists today, tending to the garden. With more than 4,000 flowers and nearly 150 varieties, the Laura Conyers Smith Rose Garden is a tranquil and beautiful addition to the park.  The gorgeous scent of roses can be enjoyed throughout the park. They grip and hug the wooden posts and overhangs, which dot the walkways surrounding a large fountain, a structure donated by the Society.

At an enormous 75 acres, Loose Park has long winding trails and vast lush grasses allowing for brisk walks and lazy afternoons. In October 1978, the trails were used in an exhibit by modern artist Christo known as “Wrapped Walk Ways,” in which the artist and his wife wrapped the trails in gold fabric.

Dotting the landscape are large trees of different species, including spruce, oak, pine and cherry blossom. These great forms of nature flourish best in the fall and spring. Changing color with such vibrancy, they cast a glow upon the surrounding neighborhoods.

Loose Park inherently reaches its most beautiful appearance in the fall, taking a rich golden-orange hue. With its deep historical connections to the city, as well as its fantastic Monet-esque caricature of nature’s bountiful visual gifts, it is well worth the short walk from campus.

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