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Fall 2023 Newsletter Highlights, August-September:

Member Picnic on August 24 brought a nice turnout of over 40 people.  Barbecue chicken sandwiches and "skinny" Polish went well with a dizzying assortment of surprises from our members.  Even the weather smiled on us

PROJECTS:  40/8 Legion Train: originally owned by the Buhl Legion Press-Lloyd Post, our Legion train has a new concrete parking pad, built with help from the CIP Program at Togo MN.  Now that the concrete has cured, we'll have the Legion Train towed into place and the deep depressions in the blacktop parking lot will be repaired.

   Caboose and Diorama Signs: The Diorama building now sports a large “Great North Road” sign, welcoming you as you enter the driveway. And the 1906 yellow DM&IR caboose is marked with its proper company railroad markings.

   Castle Masonry Repairs:  Just 73 years after his father Peter Taramelli finished work on the Castle, William Taramelli came back to repair mortar joints. During rainstorms, water had been finding its way into the iconic turrets, which are very  important as office and storage areas. A City of Chisholm property, the Museum leases the building and carefully maintains it, heating it in winter and preventing water infiltration.  September rains provided the test needed to prove the success of the work.

  Wiring Upgrades: Both the Castle and the Diorama building received new circuits and outlets this year, following recommendations by Minnesota Power.  The long runs of extension cords are a thing of the past.

Fall at the Museum

   Doc Graham Days: The Museum was represented in the Doc Graham Days Parade by Chuck Palmquist on the Ranger and several  volunteers handing out candy to the kids on the parade route. 

   Kiwanis Kids Day on September 14 was our last event of 2023.  Daily operations conclude September 17 with an MEA reopening October 20 and 21. Until mid-October, call the museum to check availability, and if we can schedule a volunteer to open just for you, we will.

Be a Volunteer!

   The Museum always welcomes volunteers.  Painting tops the list: both large and small jobs, and all can be done from the ground or bottom 2 steps of a stepladder.  Next we need occasional tour guides, who learn just one area to present.  There is something meaningful for you to contribute, regardless of skills. The Board of Directors thanks all the volunteers, members, and staff who have put in time to make the Museum succeed! We deeply value everyone that makes the Minnesota Museum of Mining what it is. 

Spring 2023 Newsletter Highlights--June 

 At its February annual membership meeting, guest speaker Mary Palcich Keyes speak gave an exciting presentation titled “The Schools That Did It All”.  Sue Frankovich was again awarded the Museum Volunteer of the Year Award.  New directors Erinn Astry and Susan Wiirre were elected to the Board. 

  New entry steps for the 1906 DM&IR Caboose are coming this summer, with help from a Chisholm Community Foundation Grant. The goal is to provide a more accessible option for people to enter into the caboose and view renovation work that has been done inside. New roofing and cupola windows and siding were renovated last season.  Rain gutters were recently installed on the main exhibit building; this has solved some water infiltration problems during spring snowmelt.  New wiring and plumbing repairs in the Castle were completed during the off-season.  Pigeon control efforts are ongoing.  We thank Sgt. Matt Stone and the crew of the Togo Restorative Justice Work Program for cleaning our shop, trimming the grounds, and their ongoing commitment to serve the museum in 2023.

   See us on You Tube! Getting a spot on TV is usually hard; not so for the Minnesota Museum of Mining! The Museum was  featured on WCCO’s “Finding Minnesota.” We had 2.5 minutes to showcase the Museum and Chisholm as a destination and did so nicely. The spot was picked up and rebroadcast by the Duluth affiliated CBS station. Watch it anytime at https://www.cbsnews.com/minnesota/news/iron-ore-and-baseball-celebrated-at-chisholms-minnesota-museum-of-mining

School field trips are back up to pre-pandemic levels, with 3 new schools.  A field trip to the Museum is a perfect way for a teacher to check off the Minnesota History portions of the social studies curriculum and eight schools this year are taking advantage of our unique collection of exhibits and artifacts—3 for the first time ever.  Our volunteer guides found the students eager, respectful, and interested--the trifecta of qualities that is so rewarding to volunteers.

   The Museum is always looking for volunteers.  Topping the list is a cleaning team to empty wastebaskets, sweep and vacuum, and dust exhibits weekday mornings.  Other areas needed: very light carpentry, maintenance, painting, research and collection organization, greeting guests, waiting on gift store customers and guiding tours. There is something meaningful for you to contribute, regardless of skills.  

Fall 2022 Newsletter Highlights--October

The Museum's oldest piece of mine-related equipment, the DM&IR caboose, dates from 1906.  This caboose made regular runs from the eastern Mesabi to Duluth ore docks and back, and is one of the very last DM&IR cabooses to remain in operation.  The City of Biwabik gave the C-55 to the museum in April 1999, where it has been displayed beside the entry drive ever since.  A roof leak appeared in 2020 and required urgent steps to prevent serious water damage.  During late 2021 and much of 2022, the roof was repaired, cupola windows rebuilt, and missing and damaged cupola siding repaired or replaced with custom-milled Douglas fir. The roof catwalk was replaced with period-correct materials and style.  Key contractors were Arrowhead Roofing, Miskulin Construction, and Iron Range MakerSpace.  This project has been financed in part with funds provided by the State of Minnesota from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Minnesota Historical Society.  Individual donors and the Ernest Lehmann Family Fund helped bring this project to conclusion.

The Wabco Haul Truck in the photo above is newly refurbished.  A new steel viewing stand funded by U. S. Steel has replaced the aged wooden staircase.  This rehab project, 5 years in duration, was made possible by SME-Northern Minnesota Section, Ziegler of Buhl, the Chisholm Community Foundation and U. S. Steel.

November 2021 Update

A new exhibit, "Ore to Steel" opened June 23. New walls, lighting, and labeling brought this formerly dim corner to life.  Next spring work will resume, with the addition of a video screen and a large digital photo viewer to show our photos.

DM&IR Caboose Roof & Cupola: With a $9,950 “Legacy” grant from the Minnesota Historical Society, we will repair the leaky roof on the yellow DM&IR caboose in early spring 2022. We had some hopelessly decayed cupola siding duplicated using Douglas Fir. Similarly, unsalvageable cupola windows were duplicated and installed, while others will be restored.

Wabco Haul Truck: Seat upholstery and final paint is nearly complete, the exhibit sign is ready for construction. The final piece is a new viewing stand, to be completed in 2022.

Castle Awning: The front castle door is now sheltered by a red awning, sporting our steamshovel logo. The lower, south door of the castle received its awning in 2020.

Fresh paint: Lydia Kowarsch, summer youth worker, put her brush to mining equipment, castle bathrooms, parade train, 2 sets of entry steps, an ancient fire hose cart, and the museum shop's overhead door.  She also admitted visitors and digitized the geology collection labels. 

We wish Jane Bartlett well in her retirement in Missouri. Jane, a 5-year veteran of Admissions,  held records for store sales and accuracy in running the admissions desk. 

May 2021 Update

Ore To Steel Exhibit entering completion:  Volunteers are painting the gallery walls, and text explaining the steps in iron and taconite mining and processing is in development.  Additional lighting plans are nearing completion.  An open house with tours of this and other exhibits is set for Saturday, June 26 to coincide with the Redhead Trail opening.

1906 DM & IR Caboose roof repair and cupola renovation: some of the original wood siding can be retained with conservation techniques, but for portions that are missing, replacement siding is being custom milled from Douglas fir to duplicate the original. Within weeks, we will learn whether our grant request for roof and cupola window repairs has been granted.

We welcome our two new Directors, Beverly Brown of Chisholm and Shirley Godwin of Hibbing.  Both bring new energy and skills to our board of directors. 

Season opening is Friday May 28, 2021!  Mask requirements will be lifted except in certain group tour situations.

February 2021 Update

What's New at the Museum... 

2021 Annual Meeting is “mail-in”

   Covid restrictions prevent our normal face-to-face dinner meeting, so we’ll conduct our business by mail this year on Feb. 22.  Members were mailed a ballot with their newsletter for use to vote for directors; those should be mailed back so we receive them by Feb. 22. Members can write in their names if willing to serve one term (2 years.) Additional directors may be appointed if the board falls below our minimum strength of 8 members.  

What’s Happened since September 2020:

  • Our last scheduled day was Sept. 13, but visitors trickled in by appointment to mid-October. Admissions income was 60% of projections, doors were open about 50% of last years’ dates.
  • 120 guests attended a well-distanced outdoor wedding in October
  • Chamber Expo and Holiday Market: we sold memberships and store items at a table outside Keyboard on Nov. 21.
  • 2020 membership numbers held steady. We used volunteers for mowing, site management, and last-minute visit appointments.  Donations from members were above expectations.   
  • Ore to Steel Exhibit:  Carol, Steve, and Susan cleared out all the mining and geology items from the silver building. In December, Miskulin Construction reframed the walls and added all new sheet rock. They rebuilt the big marble and glass rock cases. We’d expected to complete parts of the build with volunteers, but couldn’t provide safe distancing for them.
  • Give to the Max Day brought in $525 on November 19, our best GTTM Day ever.
  • Castle Bathrooms: Chuck installed new lights and Carol laid new vinyl flooring
  • Castle Basement: Chuck is scraping loose paint and plaster in preparation for repainting.

Projects Ongoing:

  • Collections Care Plan: This is being adapted from the plan of St. Louis County Historical Society
  • DM&IR Caboose Roof Repair: “Before” photos, a work plan, and a budget are being prepared for a Minnesota Historical Society grant application, due early April. The museum will fund caboose cupola repairs.
  • Wabco Truck Sign: a prototype sign is in the works to explain the operation and credit the donors.  The sign is scalable to allow coordinated signs across all the museum’s large equipment.
  • Sketches are being developed to replace graphics and artifacts into the new Ore to Steel exhibit.  New text will explain the steps in iron mining, ore processing, and steel-making. In early spring, volunteers will tape the sheetrock and paint walls, Miskulin Construction will add trim, Independent Electric will add improved lighting and outlets, and photos, models, and text panels go back onto the walls.

Looking ahead:

  • Castle Awning: A new awning over the front castle door is in the budget. Designed to match the awning on the back of the castle, this red vinyl product will sport our steam shovel logo and name imprint.
  • Membership Drive: members will receive their renewal letters in April, with a new set of local coupons.
  • DM&IR Caboose Roof: We will paint the cupola and arrange for window replacement.  If the MHS grant application is approved, the roof repair will proceed.
  • OPEN FOR THE SEASON: School visits: May 1.  General public: May 28. 

 Archived Newsletters:

April 2019 (Boys Camper All)


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