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Interested in local history? A free event brings stories of lost towns, logging, railroads and art

NISSWA — Lost towns, an area artist who painted presidents and the logging past in Crow Wing and Cass counties are all part of a free event designed for anyone interested in learning more about Minnesota and the central lakes region.

The Paul Bunyanland Cultural-Historical Society (PBCHS) 2014 winter meeting is planned from 1 p.m. to about 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 1 hosted by Grand View Lodge on Gull Lake in Nisswa.

This networking event is free to attend and is open to the public. Anyone interested in history, or who is willing to share in their own historical research or project, is encouraged to attend.

The informative portion of the program will showcase three regional historians and lecturers:

■ Rhonda Fochs is a history teacher and the author of “Minnesota’s Lost Towns” a narrative history detailing nearly 150 northern Minnesota lost towns. Journey to the past and view the comparative “then and now” slides that accompany her presentation. Learn what created various towns, how they grew and prospered, why they died, where they are located and what is there now.

■ Dick Carlson, president of the Nisswa Area Historical Society, will narrate the story of the life of area resident Col. Freeman Thorpe: an American artist, soldier, officer, orator, politician, campaign manager, writer and farmer. Freeman Thorpe was commissioned to paint more than 600 portraits of many notable Americans, among them were seven U.S. presidents; including Abraham Lincoln.

Freeman Thorpe settled at Lake Hubert in 1894 shortly after the construction of the Brainerd & Northern Minnesota Railway.

■ Douglas Birk, scholar and writer and former director of the Institute for Minnesota Archaeology (IMA), will recount details from his extensive research extending back to the late 1950s, regarding the logging history of Crow Wing and Cass County.

He will provide an archaeological and photographic overview of some old logging dams and railroads that helped shape and accommodate later settlement in the Gull Lake region.

Participants are encouraged to arrive early as the doors open at noon. Presentations will begin at 1 p.m. Light snacks and beverages will be provided.

Jeremy Jackson, PBCHS co-founder and coordinator, will emcee the meeting.

For those able to attend, reservations are requested by email to PBCHS, or by phone to 612-554-5737.

The PBCHS was formed in 2012 to organize regularly convened meetings at distinguished venues throughout “Paul Bunyanland,” the regional heartland of Minnesota extending from Bemidji in the north and Little Falls in the south, and from Aitkin in the east to Staples in the west in Central Minnesota.

The PBCHS networking and fellowship conferences are intended as a platform for residents, visitors, and organizations that wish to share and discuss; historical and archaeological research, historic preservation projects, cultural heritage activities, and ideas to stimulate the future vitality of our communities and local economy and to support non-political programs for now and in the future. Public attendance and audience participation are encouraged.

There are no dues — all that’s required is interest.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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