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Interpretive history trail project wraps first phase

ACTION Park Rapids heard an update Nov. 10 about the project funded by a grant from the Minnesota Historical Society.

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The Hubbard County Historical Museum
Park Rapids Enterprise file photo
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Rod Nordberg gave ACTION Park Rapids an update on the city’s historic commemoration project on Thursday.

Nordberg reminded the group about the city Arts and Culture Advisory Commission’s partnership with the Hubbard County Historical Society to create an interpretive history trail, funded by a grant from the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS).

The first year’s grant project was done with historical consultants identifying themes and capturing 22 significant stories that relate Park Rapids’ history, arts commission secretary LuAnn Hurd-Lof explained later. Each story is summarized in 250 words to describe their historic importance in context.

In the second phase, building plaques and signs would be placed downtown and at other locations to acquaint people with some history.

In a follow-up interview, Hurd-Lof stressed that no signs will be placed on private property without permission from property owners, who will be asked to sign an agreement with the city.

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Also, Hurd-Lof noted, the second phase will depend on the success of a grant application to MHS, and submissions won’t open until spring.

Nevertheless, Hurd-Lof shared the final report on the study. The 22 stories were crafted to fit the major themes of “What brought people to Park Rapids?” and “What have people brought to Park Rapids?”:

  • Ojibwe land and law
  • Early Euro-American inhabitants
  • Why is it called Park Rapids?
  • Timber industry
  • Railroad growth and development (turntable site)
  • Railroads and Park Rapids development (depot)
  • Park Rapids: Gateway to Itasca State Park
  • Main Street
  • Tourism
  • Health tourism
  • Park Rapids bathhouse
  • Jefferson Highway
  • Education in Park Rapids
  • Park Rapids Public Library
  • Park Rapids Post Office
  • Hubbard County Courthouse
  • Auditorium
  • Park Rapids Armory
  • Medicine in Park Rapids
  • Bishop’s Department Store
  • Fuller’s Tackle Shop
  • Ojibwe Language Project

The report concludes with a section titled “Implementation,” which calls for installation of “aesthetically appropriate and permanent plaques on downtown buildings and signposts at other locations in the city,” directing visitors to a website with more information about their history and significance.
Also, the report calls for rack cards with maps to be distributed at various locations around town, for use as “self-guided history walking tours.”

In conclusion, the arts commission states that it values enhancing quality of place, promoting economic development, supporting education and celebrating the community.

Residents “may feel more connected by learning about the city’s history,” it says. “Tourists and seasonal residents often express great interest in finding new and interesting things to see and do.”

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Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at rfish@parkrapidsenterprise.com or 218-252-3053.
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