Historical Society invites community to anniversary celebrationsThe numbers 90, 36 and 120 might bring Powerball to mind, unless you know your Northland history.
By: Thomas Vaughn, for the Duluth Budgeteer News
The numbers 90, 36 and 120 might bring Powerball to mind, unless you know your Northland history.
This Tuesday evening, area residents will have a unique opportunity to learn more about what these numbers really mean around the Arrowhead region when the St. Louis County Historical Society hosts its annual meeting in the Great Hall at the Depot.
During the evening, the St. Louis County Historical Society will celebrate 90 years as an organization.
“For 90 years the people’s history has been collected and preserved by the society. Many of the artifacts and archival collections held here in public trust have been deemed of national significance,” said executive director JoAnne Coombe, reflecting on the various manuscripts, letters, artwork and objects that have become part of the society’s collection over the years.
The keynote speaker for the dinner will be James L. Oberstar, Eighth Congressional District Representative to Washington, D.C. from 1975 until 2011. During his speech, Oberstar will look back on his 36 years of public service and offer his perspective on seminal events in regional history, such as the discovery of iron ore, the arrival of immigrant peoples, and the organization of a steel workers’ union.
“The historical society meticulously gathers the details from the dust of the past and separates out word-of-mouth legend from fact. That’s why we’re all grateful for the Society and its diligent detective work in reclaiming the past, interpreting it and preserving it for future generations and bringing our history alive,” said Oberstar.
The venue itself for the society’s annual meeting is also celebrating 120 years of service as a Duluth landmark.
In March of 1892 the Depot opened after two years of construction costing $615,000.00. Immigrants from 40 separate countries would come through its gates. The last passenger train left the Depot in May of 1969, according to Kimberly Schandel of the Lake Superior Railroad Museum.
“The Northern Pacific Railway actually built the structure, then shared it with five other railroads. The Union Depot in Duluth is where many of this area’s early immigrants came through when they arrived here. It was kind of the Ellis Island, if you will, of the area,” commented Ken Buehler, executive director of the St. Louis County Heritage and Arts Center. Dwight Nelson is the president of the society’s Board of Directors. He first became involved with the Historical Society in the late eighties when the Northland Vietnam Veterans’ Association was planning to build the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial near Canal Park on the Lakewalk. The group needed to verify the accuracy of veteran names that would appear on the wall. They turned to the St. Louis County Historical Society. After a successful experience working with the society, Nelson remained active and joined the board a few years ago.
“We’ve had a great year. We negotiated a new agreement with the Northeast Minnesota Historical Center at UMD where our archives are stored and protected and our exhibits are expanding. I’m looking forward to a great time,” Nelson said.
“We are gathering to appreciate service to memory, service to culture and service to community,” affirmed Oberstar about the upcoming celebratory gathering, which is open anyone wishing to attend.
Registration is required for the event, which begins at 5 p.m. with a social hour. The date is Tuesday, March 27. Tickets are $40 and include a catered, buffet-style dinner by Radisson Catering. For reservations call the St. Louis County Historical Society at 218-733-7586, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.