Unfolding History

mobile lumber museum to debut in Chppewa Falls

Mike Seitz

FEEL FREE TO AX QUESTIONS. The Chippewa County Historical Society’s new Mobile Lumberjack Museum.
FEEL FREE TO AX QUESTIONS. The Chippewa County Historical Society’s new Mobile Lumberjack Museum.

The Past Passed Here has become an annual event coordinated by the Chippewa County Historical Society where folks can learn about local history. For years, this event has included reenactments of life in the Chippewa Valley 200 years ago as well as camp skill competitions and vendors with a variety of food and other items themed around the Valley’s history. But this year, the gathering in downtown Chippewa Falls’ Allen Park will include something completely new: the Mobile Lumberjack Museum, an exhibit created by the Chippewa County Historical Society.

“I’m excited about how well it has turned out,” Jim Shuh said. “When we began building the trailer last fall there were five of us who put in a fair amount of time.” And when I say this was created by the Chippewa County Historical Society, I mean that literally. With help from people such as “Jake” Jacobson, a former shop teacher, and a strong vision in mind, they’ve constructed the 20-foot long trailer from scratch.

The lumber industry is a rich chapter of Chippewa Valley history, and the trailer will showcase this history inside and out. Folks might not realize that the lumbering required many different people and pieces of equipment. The variety of tools used by lumberjacks – such as caulk boots and pike polls – and the jobs they had to accomplish are just a few of the things you’ll learn about at the mobile museum.

The Past Passed Here includes Education Days, which involve more than 600 fourth-grade students attending the event as a field trip. Since Wisconsin history is part of the fourth-grade curriculum, the Past Passed Here serves as an excellent opportunity for students to learn about the Chippewa Valley’s history. The mobile museum will give them a chance to learn about lumberjacks and think about what life was like in that era. “We decided it would be fun and educational for the students who are looking at this information about different lumberjack jobs to consider what job they would want to do if they had lived back 150 years ago,” Jim said.

While Education Days are for students, the Past Passed Here also will be open to the community May 12-15, and everyone is encouraged to attend. The lumber industry had a significant impact on the Chippewa Valley, so it’s important that people learn about it. “There’s a whole lot more involved in that industry than just cutting down a tree,” Jim explained. “Most of the people who lived here were either involved in the lumbering industry or members of their family were. That’s how most people made a living back then.”

The mobile museum will also be used on June 1 when local second-grade students will be brought to the Chippewa County Historical Society museum to learn about local history. The mobile museum will be on display for the kids to explore and learn about lumberjacks.

While there are no plans to build another trailer like this, Jim explained that an added benefit is the displays and artifacts can be changed out at any time. With that in mind, the mobile museum can be themed to any subject the historical society desires. For now, the mobile museum’s theme is lumbering, but be on the lookout for new exhibits in the future.

The Past Passed Here • Allen Park (corner of Bridge and Spring Streets), downtown Chippewa Falls • Thursday-Friday, May 12-13, 3-6pm; Saturday, May 14, 9am-6pm; and Sunday, May 15, 9am-4pm • $3 per person, $10 family pass, 5 and under free • thepastpassedhere.org

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