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Parks and Recreation

Hughes Park - 2100 Wilson Ave SW

History

  • William John Hughes, an immigrant from Wales, came to the site of the park which was then located on the outskirts of Cedar Rapids, in rural Linn County in 1908.
  • Hughes started a tree nursery which has expanded into a full-service landscape design and installation family business encompassing 150 acres and transitioning into five generations.
  • As the city grew fields and landscape operation facilities moved and relocated southwest of Cedar Rapids in the 1970’s.
  • Hughes Park’s seven acres were preserved when the last family members living on the property died.
  • The Parks Department purchased the park in 2016.

Park Features

  • Hughes Park is an example of historic preservation of outdoor environmental space creating a unique space where residents and visitors can recreate and play while enjoying nature.
  • The park features nature themed play equipment, a naturalized teaching area, and a birding area. Educational signage shows how to identify birds, how birds use trees, and common birds of Iowa. Additional signage provides history of the park and information about the sculpture.
  • Play pieces are contemporary log balance beams and playhouses with nets, ladders and poles. There are also some Derecho log stepping pads.
  • Paved and grass mowed trails provides access to the teaching area, birding area, pollinator habitat and playgrounds.  
  • Hughes Park has typical park amenities including a pavilion, restroom, and open field with a backstop that can be used for baseball, soccer, or other field activities.
  • A basketball court consist of two half basketball courts. It can be used for wheelchair basketball and flooded in the winter to be used as an ice rink. This area is 125 feet by 65 feet.
Discover and explore Hughes Park with a scavenger hunt. Download and print the pdf (2.54 MB) below.
HUGHES PARK SCAVENGER HUNT 

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Sculpture

  • Hughes Horse is a sculpture that represents the draft horses once used in the landscape nursery business that the Hughes family established on the site.
  • Artist Steve Huffman of Ottumwa, Iowa, worked for 10 months welding hundreds of scrap metal pieces, old tools, and machine parts to create the life-size horse.
  • The sculpture includes a Welsh dragon, the national symbol of Wales, the country William John Hughes immigrated from. The sculpture also includes an oak leaf, representative of the tree of Iowa. It includes elements that discourage birds from nesting within the sculpture.
  • The walking cultivator that is part of the sculpture was used by three generations of the Hughes family to cultivate field-grown nursery stock on the site.
  • The sculpture was displayed in the Agriculture Building during the 2021 Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. 

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