The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

History goes live at Iron County Museum


July 28, 2018

P.J. Glisson/Daily Globe photo

ACTING AS A living history interpreter at the Iron County Historical Museum Friday was Dan Roesinger, explaining the art of blacksmithing. Among his audience were, from left, Bronson Walowinski, Kingston Savage, Carol Saari and Caleb Ballard.

HURLEY - History was very much alive Friday as tours of the Iron County Historical Museum took place in Hurley, while various demonstrations also occurred both inside and outside of the building.

Volunteers served as guides in some of the 15 rooms, while living history interpreters brought specific subjects to life, much to the delight of both children and adults.

Using the stage name of Anastasie Cadotte, retired teacher Patti Bertagnoli had kids in a state of constant interaction as she explained the habits of various wild animals.

For instance, the kids were fascinated to learn how a fisher can outfight a porcupine, and they rushed forward when she invited them to pet her beautiful string of fur pelts.

Bertagnoli, who taught first and second grade at the Hurley K-12 School, told the Globe her demonstration also included "a lot about the Lake Superior fur trade and a lot about Lake Superior." She added, "I want them to appreciate our great lake."

She gestured toward Dan Roesinger, who was giving a demonstration as a blacksmith, and said, "I love the youth connection to history, to our historical society. Look how engaged they are."

Bertagnoli described the link between the Hurley K-12 School and the museum as "a beautiful partnership."

Helping summer teacher Meagan Leinon to supervise kids at the demonstrations was Carol Saari, who has worked for 14 years with the All Kids Program from Hurley School. "It was the Stars program before," said Saari. "Just recently, the name has changed." Saari, who also has been an after-school teacher, said she now is doing a summer program.

After his demonstration, "blacksmith" Roesinger said his wife, Saga Erickson, was simultaneously demonstrating the tying of brooms inside the museum. Regarding the excitement of the kids, he said, "That's one of the reasons we do it."

He added of history, "A good teacher can bring it to life," but he said when people see history reenacted it really helps to bring it all home.

Inside the museum, volunteer Gary Harrington was in charge of the military room, which has a full array of various military uniforms and other artifacts such as an old gas mask and military ration tins.

"I was asked to do the military room because I'm a veteran," said Harrington, who was volunteering for a second year in the room in which he said museum staff members have done "a great job."

Museum volunteer Bobbie Jareski said all three museum floors were open for tours.

Among featured rooms on the second floor are a music room, a mining area, a garment room, a full court room, and a school room.

Sharing history in the school room was Gerry Traczyk, playing 20th century writer Edna Ferber, who grew up in Appleton, Wis., and based her novel "Come and Get It" on the local logging industry.

Traczyk said Ferber's specialty was "history of United States and how it was formed, but also social issues."

Sheila Sukanen, of Upson, was among many appreciative viewers strolling from room to room and marveling at the "many interesting artifacts."

Sukanen said her favorite find was some history about Upson and Iron Belt, but she was impressed with the overall scale of the museum. "This is my first time here. I didn't realize this is so big," she said. "They've put a lot of work into this. It's something everyone should come and see."

The Iron County Historical Museum is located at 303 Iron Street in Hurley. Friday's open house was part of Heritage Days events continuing in Hurley this weekend.


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