Once a quirky private park open to the public, Whispering Pines (now part of Hartman Creek State Park) underwent a transformation led by the Friends of Hartman Creek Park and Waupaca Historical Society.
Slowly and subtly, over 50 years, Whispering Pines fell into despair due to a lack of state funding. Much of the park was unusable. In early 2022, the Friends launched an ambitious effort to raise funds, recruit volunteers, and rescue the park. Making Whispering Pines accessible to visitors with mobility challenges was a priority. They reached their fundraising goals thanks to the generosity of individual donors, private foundations, statewide grants and community partners.
With a substantial grant of $7,500 from the Waupaca Area Community Foundation, downed timber and invasive brush were removed. New walking trails were created, paved with crushed stone for easy rolling and safe footing, leading to beautiful viewing vistas overlooking Pope and Marl Lakes:
In 2023, Friends installed three benches made from reclaimed ash trees culled due to Emerald Ash Borer. The existing picnic tables and grill were made wheelchair friendly. Paying homage to the historical significance of Whispering Pines, the Friends collaborated with the Waupaca Historical Society to create signage with photos from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. Additional interpretive signage focus on the unique trees and pristine waters of the Upper Chain O’Lakes surrounding the park.
Friends celebrated the completion of this community-supported project on Sept. 17, including a guided hike led by historians.
The Waupaca Area Community Foundation is one of five geographic affiliates we partner with in the Fox Valley. Our other partners include the Brillion Area Family of Funds, Clintonville Area Foundation Chilton Area Community Foundation and Shawano Area Community Foundation.