St. Louis Historical Society reopens ‘J. C. "Buzz" Ryan Forest History Room’

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The St. Louis County Historical Society hosted a free reception at the Depot on Friday to celebrate the redesign, reinterpretation, and reinstallation of the J. C. "Buzz" Ryan Forest History Room.

Guests at the Depot were able to meet the exhibit designer/fabricator for the St. Louis County Historical Society, Gary Lundstrom.

“I took what was here a redesign that reconfigured it and tried to tell a more complete story in the way of calling out some of these original fascinating pieces that some people have told me they didn’t even realize were in this exhibit because the first configuration they had was a montage of a lot of things put together,” said Lundstrom.

Lundstrom started this project in mid-February and has logged 240 hours working on the redesign.

“One of my associates said it needed decluttering,” said Lundstrom. I didn’t think it needed so much decluttering as it needed more organization and for the pieces to be able to be called out for themselves, for the uniqueness that they are, and especially to the northern Minnesota forest industry was was an incredible industry over well over 100 years ago here.”

The permanent exhibit honors the legacy ofJ.C. “Buzz” Ryan and the Civilian Conservation Corps. It also features photographs of the logging industry taken between 1912 and 1916 by William Francis Roleff.

“These photographs are fascinating,” said Lundstrom. “People that have never been to this exhibit will experience his photography capturing the moments and a thing of the past. They’ll be able to see the artifacts that were used in the logging industry, and I think that they’ll be able to feel like they’ve really been brought into the past to some extent.”

In addition to cataloging and refashioning historical pieces, Lundstrom also used his craftsman background to build portions of the exhibit such as a table, a shed, and a saw holder.

“I really feel privileged to be able to work in an environment like this in regards to the Historical Society because it combines the three of my three main loves,” explained Lundstrom. “One of them is the history of our area. My family’s been here since the 1880s. Another one is design. Being a graphic artist, being able to present something that people can appreciate visually. Then the third one is being a fabricator. I mean, working, doing carpentry, building stuff, cutting things up and putting them together and creating a new experience for people.”

The exhibit is open without charge to museum patrons at the St. Louis Historical Society within the Depot.