During the time that George F. Rhodes was bishop of the Milton Ward, the Morgan Utah Stake was granted permission on Jan. 19, 1959, to build a new ward building in Milton. Ward members were asked to contribute one-half of the cost of the building and labor to supplement the labor supplied by building missionaries.
The Milton Ward was small, and members were retired couples on fixed incomes or families with many children. The Milton Ward bishopric was concerned about the hardship being put on families to meet their assessments and decided to hold a number of fundraising activities. One of these was the Milton Ward Jamboree. The Jamboree—complete with an early morning breakfast, a junior rodeo and other activities including ball games and a baby contest—would be held at the Milton Park site that had been donated by pioneer ancestors.
To prepare for the rodeo, an arena was needed with stock pens to contain the animals. Raymond and Ruby McMillan spearheaded construction of the arena. Arrangement was made with the UPRR to get ties for the posts. Heavy fencing that had been used for the construction of Interstate 84 between Morgan and Weber Canyon was donated by the Utah State Highway Organization. This was brought to the site and put in place, and sand was hauled to the arena. This project was completed and made possible by the efforts of many of the Milton residents. The rodeo was a huge success. The Milton Ladies Riding Club was organized to use as flag bearers in the grand entry and perform a drill.
At about the same time as the beginning of the Milton Jamboree, Milton resident Barbara Thurston saw a vision of a beautiful park that could be used for a variety of activities. Barbara and Dale purchased long sections of galvanized pipe and a pump to water the grassy area of the park.
Many Milton area residents have witnessed the hard work of this determined lady to turn a large field of weeds and alfalfa into the beautiful park that exists today. Barbara wore out three riding lawn mowers, and just as many pumps that were placed in the slew water across the street for the water source. Week after week during the summer months, Barbara could be found moving pipes or mowing the lawn of the park. She kept watch over the comings and goings, and lent a hand to anyone that needed it as they came to the park for any reason. Barbara saw the park as an extension of her own back yard.
One Milton resident said “You cannot think about the park without thinking of Barbara and all the work she has done over the years.”
The Milton Park serves as a practice field for youth football, basketball and baseball teams. It has a covered bowery with tables and a kitchen area, a playground, an open fire pit and restroom facilities. The park is used all season for family reunions and other events.
In 2012 the arena was in disrepair. Two Eagle Scout candidates, Brayden Stegelmeyer and Miles Mecham, took on the huge project of replacing the fence complete with a large gate. The arena is used by a number of 4-H groups and Morgan County residents
Thanks to Barbara Rhodes and Lana Francis for the information in the article.