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Coralville family farm turned city park has storied history

After more than 70 years as farm land, Altmaier property comes 'full circle'

Cedric Altmaier and his four children eat a picnic in a field on the Altmaier Family Farm while he takes a break from farm work. Mother Patricia Altmaier took the photo. (Elaine Altmaier Haddy).
Cedric Altmaier and his four children eat a picnic in a field on the Altmaier Family Farm while he takes a break from farm work. Mother Patricia Altmaier took the photo. (Elaine Altmaier Haddy).
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CORALVILLE — Cedric Altmaier never really played golf.

Instead, the World War II Navy veteran mended the fences and generally kept pristine the 100-acre Coralville farm he and his wife, Patricia Altmaier, purchased in 1945. Keeping up the farm was his recreation, so he called it his golf course.

“He loved mending fences, mowing, just keeping the farm beautiful, absolutely like a park,” said Elaine Altmaier Haddy, one of the couple’s daughters, adding that his son and sons-in-law all golfed. “He said he didn’t need to golf because he had his own golf course at the farm.”


Calling his farm a golf course turned out to be a bit of foreshadowing: After seven decades as farm land, the property was acquired by the city of Coralville to become a park, highlighted by a 18-hole disc golf course. The purchase cost the city $1.2 million over 10 years.

“I just went, ‘Oh my God, it’s come full circle,’” Haddy said. “My dad called it his golf course and now it’s becoming one.”

Coralville opened the park at 3444 Deer Creek Road on the city’s east side at the end of last month. City staff have plans for a barnyard picnic area complete with permanent yard games, an archery range and a tree restoration area with a kayak and canoe access to Clear Creek, among other features, Parks and Recreation Director Sherri Proud previously told The Gazette.

The city took over the land in January 2017 as an effort to protect the surrounding watershed.

“We are so happy that everyone gets to play in our magical playground, because it was,” Haddy said. “We had to work in the morning, get all of our job list done in the morning. And then we could roam. We could roam the creek and the timber. We made tents out there. We played cards. We just did everything.”

Haddy was the third of Cedric and Patricia Altmaier’s four children, who all still live in Johnson County. Cedra Altmaier Williamson, who is the oldest, was born while her father was away fighting in the Pacific. Once he returned home and the couple purchased the farm, Cedra was followed by Robert Altmaier, Elaine Altmaier Haddy and Lois Altmaier Crowley.

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The Altmaier family goes back generations in the county. Cedric Altmaier was a third-generation Johnson County resident, born near Hills as the grandson of immigrants, who came in the United States in the mid-1800s.

Looking back on her time growing up on the farm, Haddy said memories of riding along with her dad on the tractor stand out the most. Cedric Altmaier purchased his Case tractor in 1949, still in the barn when the park recently opened.

The Altmaiers raised animals and grew corn, beans, hay and oats. Haddy called the operation “farm-to-table” long before that phrase became common.

After his father’s death in 1993, Robert Altmaier took over maintenance of the family farm until the siblings turned the farm over to Coralville. Their mother, Patricia Altmaier, lives in a local retirement community.

Multiple generations of the Altmaier family, including all four siblings and their mother, attended the park’s grand opening last month. Haddy said her family plans to frequent the park because it’s fun for them to see visitors there.

“How many people have that?” she asked. “Here we get to have a park named in our last name, Altmaier, forever. We were just thrilled by it.”

l Comments: (319) 339-3172; maddy.arnold@thegazette.com

 
 
 

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