How do you cheer up your employees during the Great Depression?
Here’s an idea: build a three-story waterfall as the centerpiece of a 22-acre park with a Native American theme, complete with a teepee and life-sized mannequin in feather headdress (plus occasional live performers doing war dances) – and all of this, adjacent to a carpet manufacturing mill at a busy intersection on the Northwest Side.
The owner of the carpet company, Walter Olson, was inspired to recreate the landscape of his northern Wisconsin vacation home. He shared his elaborate creation with his employees and area families, who enjoyed visiting this curious, but delightful, topographical wonderland in the middle of the otherwise flat Northwest Side.
The Olson Waterfall, as it was known, was erected in 1935, and was a favorite destination for family outings for decades. It was decorated for holidays, becoming a Christmas wonderland, or a Halloween haunt.
After Olson sold the property to Marshall Field and Company to use as a warehouse, the Falls eventually fell – demolished by their new owner in the 1970s to make way for a parking lot.