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Friday, April 24, 2015

Planned Tourism

            An article published in the Big Lake Herald and reprinted in the Sherburne County Star News reinforces what we have been documenting for some time: tourism was intended as a major industry in Sherburne County going back to the original settlement of the county.  The article printed in 1907 reports:
Henry Ferguson, a resident of Wright county over forty years, at present of Big Lake, Sherburne County, dined at Brown’s Hotel in Big Lake May 7, 1855, and at the same hotel May 7, 1907, 52 years after only.  Mr. Ferguson is in the eighty-second year and enjoying good health for which he is thankful.  Brown’s hotel was located by Joseph Brown in June, 1847, and continued by his son, N. D. Brown, up to the present time, 60 years only.  
            Advertisement for Brown’s Hotel, as a place for fine fishing and a nice spot to get away from the hustle and bustle of the cities, were published as early as 1855.  Still later, the railroads advertised excursion trains to Sherburne County to move passengers out of the city for a weekend of relaxation.

            Clearly, entrepreneurs in Sherburne County saw the area as potentially significant to the tourism industry.  The potential continues to this day with the development of the Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge and the Sand Dunes State Forest.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

It Really Works

Every discussion regarding cemetery markers and gravestones, inevitably evolves into the question: how do you extract information from those old stones?  How do you decipher the worn ones; the stones with almost no visible engraving left on the surface.  Some people suggest cleaning the stones, take some shaving cream or mild soap and scrap off the moss and lichen that has attached to the stone.  Unfortunately, THIS IS BAD.  I can guarantee that you will damage the stone beyond repair if you try to clean it.
 
Leave the cleaning to the professionals.

Probably the best alternative I have found to extract information from a worn stone is through the use of aluminum foil   Wrap the surface of the stone with aluminum foil.  Then take a soft sponge and gently press against the surface of the stone.  DO NOT RUB THE STONE.  Gently press the aluminum foil into every tiny crevice of the stone surface.   Gradually the original information may become apparent.  Take a photograph and transcribe all of the information on the stone. 

When you remove the aluminum foil, it will flatten back out, so you lose the information.  Be sure to write down every line on the stone.

With this technique you have done minimal damage to the stone and have retrieved the information you wanted and needed. 

A final tip for this process, use wide aluminum foil.  This way you can wrap the stone vertically, and hopefully need only one sheet of foil.  In the photograph below, you can see that 18 inch aluminum foil would have better served the purpose than the 12 inch foil that we have.



And, thanks to Phyllis Scroggins and Diana Schansberg for help with this experiment.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Electricity Offers An Easier Life

I was reviewing the oral history collection at SHC.  This particular passage from the Carl Aubol Oral History reminded me of how far society has come.  In just 80 years, electricity has given the United States an abundance of luxury items and made life so much simpler.  I wanted to share some of that with you.

Aubol TV and Appliance has been operating in Big Lake, MN since the 1930s.   Even before the opening of the store, dating back to the early 1920s, Harold Aubol was working on radios in his home to give isolated farmers greater access to news and information. 

The entire oral history is fascinating.

“My dad started a store in 1934.  Dad started out building radios because people didn't have access to the news and things in their homes at that time except with battery pack radios.  As electricity come in, then they replaced the battery type radios with electric.  That made quite a change.  Then also with the appliances, they used to have, like, the gasoline engine wringer washers.  As electricity come in, it replaced gasoline motors with electric motors so the ladies could do their wash in the home.  A lot of them, when they'd run those gas engines, they'd take them outside on the porch and run them.  So, the electricity made it much better for the lady of the house to do her washing.  Of course, after the wringer washers were out with electric motors, then they started to get dryers in; so, that the ladies didn't have to hang their clothes outside.  They could put them in a dryer and dry them electrically.  Then, it kind of made the transformation from, basically, the wood stove for cooking to electric for cooking also.  Therefore, the ranges changed considerably from the big old cast iron ones to the more modern ranges that we see today of porcelain and electric burners.”