Fredric Lee Hoogland, a real visionary

On April 22, Lincoln Parish lost a man who was a visionary in the truest sense. Fredric Lee Hoogland was the founder of one of the most popular attractions, not only for Lincoln Parish but for the surrounding area and regions far removed from the hills of north Louisiana. It was Hoogland who located and promoted and worked for the parish to purchase the area and that would become Lincoln Parish Park.
I had the privilege of visiting with Hoogland some 20 years ago after the park was up and running and attracting visitors from everywhere. I wrote a story about our visit that appeared in Lincoln Parish Park Notes newsletter and in honor of his memory, following are excerpts of that article.
“When I stepped up on a bluff that spring day in the late 1970s and saw what lay before me, I’m sure if somebody had heard me, they’d have thought I was an evangelist praising the Lord. I’ve never had an experience quite like that and I was overcome with emotion, realizing that my prayers had been answered. After walking thousands of acres around Ruston for the better part of three years, I realized that God had led me to the right spot and it was just about more than I could handle,” Hoogland recalled.
“That’s not all; the further I walked into the woods, the better it got. There was no doubt in my mind that here was the site that would ultimately become the park I’d dreamed about since high school.”
Once the property was located, there were hurdles that had to be crossed. First of all, the property, no matter how perfect it was as a park site, was privately owned and not for sale.

It took a lengthy period of negotiation and persuasion and, according to Hoogland, another Divine miracle or two, the owners finally agreed to sell. Hoogland was an elected member of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury and the jury formed a Parks, Recreation and Tourism Committee and the obvious choice to chair this committee was Fredric Hoogland. The jury had the amount of money in the bank needed for the purchase, took a vote and five members voted for it; unfortunately seven voted against it. Not about to give up, Hoogland lobbied the seven no-voters and three weeks later, votes were cast again and the final count was seven for; five against. The property was purchased in February, 1982.
After all the legal requirements were met, the park was opened on a limited basis in 1989 and for the seven years following the purchase, it took a plethora of planning and work to turn this rugged hunk of Lincoln Parish property into the jewel it is today.
You can just imagine what was involved into turning the rough piece of land into something visitors could utilize. Concession stand, restrooms, shelters, nature trails and bike trails all had to be planned and constructed. The park became fully operational in March, 1990 and by 1995 was averaging approximately 70,000 visitors a year.
Current park Director, James Ramsaur, saw the potential to adding to the park bike trails and today, Lincoln Parish Park is home to one of the most popular mountain bike trails in the United States with the most recent addition being a Flow Trail Hub.
The park is also home to a 3-D archery range, a lake for swimming and fishing and camping sites from tents to recreational RVs.
“Looking back now,” Hoogland told me, “I know that it was the Good Lord who made this place beautiful. We just massaged what He had already made.”

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