Paddle Back in Time
The Past Passed Here opens history to kids (and adults)
It’s time to shed the stereotypes about history being boring and stuffy. The lives of those who came before us in the Chippewa Valley were exciting and diverse, and every year kids (and grown-ups, too) get a chance to immerse themselves in part of that history courtesy of the Past Passed Here. Now in its 13th year, the Past Passed Here is a four-day re-enactment of the fur trade and lumbering eras, which shaped the Valley as surely as a flying tomahawk shapes its target. And tossing tomahawks, sawing logs, and navigating an obstacle course with a tin cup perched on a canoe paddle are just part of the fun for the nearly 600 fourth-graders from area schools who will explore the grounds in Chippewa Falls’ Allen Park during the day Wednesday through Friday. (The grounds are open to the public Thursday and Friday evenings, as well as Saturday and Sunday.) The kids – and the historically curious of all ages who’ll visit at other times – will mingle with scores of re-enactors who don the fur, leather, and buckskin of 18th- and 19th-century voyageurs, Native Americans, and lumberjacks. “It’s really geared to help the fourth-graders try to finish off their year of studying Wisconsin history,” explains event co-chairman Jim Schuh of the Chippewa County Historical Society. “It allows them to actually experience life the way it was back then by talking to re-enactors and visiting their camps and seeing some aspects of the way that life would have been.” And the history is in more than just the folkways (from blacksmithing to porcupine quill working), costumes, tents, and tepees of the re-enactors. Allen Park is literally historical ground: French fur traders really paddled past on the Chippewa River and the park once was the site of the “largest sawmill in the world under one roof.” Come down, eat some frybread, swing a tomahawk, and listen carefully for the subtle sound of voyageurs’ canoe paddles in the creek.
The Past Passed Here • May 7-8, 3-6pm; May 9, 9am-6pm; May 10, 9am-1pm • Allen Park, Chippewa Falls (corner of River and Bridge streets) • $3 adults, $10 family pass, ages 5 and under FREE • (715) 723-0619 • thepastpassedhere.org