On April 29, 2007, two local canoeists drowned after re-entering the river too close to the Iowa River dam in Alden and were sucked under by the recirculating currents. Local volunteers almost immediately decided that something needed to be done to provide canoeists and kayakers with a safe way to exit before, and return to the water after this low-head dam in Alden.
The project began as just a portage but escalated into the area being completely redone and a Memorial Park established in honor of those who have perished in the river. The project was designed by Professor Carl Rogers of Iowa State University. He has used the Alden project as an example for other communities as they contemplate ways to design their dam portage projects. The Memorial Park has a sign, benches with the names of those that perished in the river, picnic tables, a fire ring, trees and many flowering plants. It is a beautiful park now and a wonderful memorial to those we have lost in the river.
Many grants from the DOT, DNR, REAP, Trees Forever, and the Iowa River Greenbelt Resource Trust were applied for and received to help fund the project. Martin Marietta donated over 400 ton of rock for this community project that was used to create a walkway that leads the boaters from the river to a location at which they can safely re-enter the water, donated erosion stone and flagstone for the bank of the river, and also donated the rock for the parking lot.
Employees of Martin Marietta and their spouses also donated many hours of their time this year to the completion of this very special addition to the community in the hopes that no one else will lose their life while enjoying their love of the water.