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by: J. BRIAN MONIHAN, The community gathers for a celebration of the restoration of the historic iron furnace at George Rogers Park. The project took more than seven years to complete.

More than 250 people gathered on the lawn at George Rogers Park Saturday morning to celebrate the completion of the seven-year restoration of Lake Oswego's historical iron furnace.


'To borrow a phrase from the Grateful Dead, 'what a long strange trip it's been,'' said Jerry Knippel, the Historic Design Task Force project manager.

But after seven years, and 5,748 5-gallon buckets of mortar, the furnace stands proud and strong in the heart of the park.

The ceremony included the dedication of the Gerber Memorial Garden, a tribute to Bill Gerber, a longtime Lake Oswegan - and former mayor - who fought for the preservation project and died before its completion.

Gerber's wife, children and grandchildren were all at the event honoring his memory.

'This is thrilling for me, and something Bill would have loved. He loved anything to do with Lake Oswego. He was very passionate about this city,' said Beth Gerber, Bill's wife.

For Erika Shearer, Bill Gerber's granddaughter who came from Reno for the event, 'It is nice to know my grandfather will always be remembered - particularly by those that knew him. It is nice for me to come back to my hometown and know a piece of my family will always be here.'

Former mayor, Judie Hammerstad, who was in office when the project started, did the official ribbon cutting of the new informational kiosk.

When Congressman Kurt Schrader addressed the crowd, he commended them for their commitment to this historical project and reminded them, 'You don't know where you're going, unless you know where you've been.'

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