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CHEYENNE - Better late than never: A ceremony today will honor the couple who donated land for the Independence Rock historic site more than 30 years ago.

Independence Rock is a large granite boulder in southwest Natrona County. The rock is near the Oregon-California Trail and was a place where pioneers would leave messages for others on the trail.

Independence Rock was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. In 1977, Norman and Gaynell Park donated the land to the state.

The Parks live on the Dumbell Ranch at nearby Devil's Gate. They donated the land amid talk about commercial development to the side of the rock, according to Barbara Dobos, co-founder of the Alliance for Historic Wyoming.

They were never recognized for their gift.

"The one omission to this successful acquisition of a state treasure was that Norman and Gaynell were inadvertently never formally acknowledged as the benefactors that made all this possible," Dobos said.

The ceremony recognizing the Parks will be sponsored by the Wyoming State Division of State Parks and Historic Sites, with help from the Alliance for Historic Wyoming. A sign recognizing the importance of the Parks' gift will be dedicated.

"There was never a sign or anything at the rock that they had made this gesture, which of course was magnificent," Dobos said.

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