Forest History Center
Near Highways 169 and 2, Grand Rapids, MN. 218-327-4482. www.mnhs.org/places/sites/fhc
$7 adults, $6 seniors, $4 ages 6-17, 3 and under free. Free parking. Visitors center stroller accessible; large-wheeled strollers available to take out to camp. Restroom with changing table.
The Forest History Center was the impetus for our most recent family adventure. My grandmother had grown up in lumber camps, so when we read about the Forest History Center’s “Getting the Camp Ready for Christmas” program, we decided that a trip to northern Minnesota would make a good family weekend.
Normally, the camp part of the Forest History Center is only open during the summer. Its website had advised hats and boots for this special winter program, so we dressed in our warmest gear when we headed out into the -12 degree weather.
We started at the visitor center and then walked out through the snowy woods to the lumber camp site. In the bunk house, we were greeted by period musicians singing Christmas songs by the fire. In the cook shack, Rebecca, the cook, explained lumberjacks’ meals and slang.
After peeking in the other camp buildings, we were taken back to the visitor center by a horse-drawn sleigh, a treat for all of us.
Back at the visitor center, Santa was waiting to see the kids, with cookies and cider for everyone. Volunteers were on hand to help the kids make projects; we came home iwth a wreath, two pinecone reindeer, and an ornament.
While Dad was helping the older kids finish their projects, our toddler and I wandered over to the exhibit area that displayed the logging and paper industries from pioneer to modern times. A children’s play area was available, and all of the kids loved “driving” the huge lumber truck and four-wheeler on display.
All in all, we were at the Forest History Center for 2.5 hours and only left because it was lunchtime. We were very pleasantly surprised at the variety of exhibits and activities and how well they fit our young family.
As we were leaving, the boys asked to go back in the summer so they could climb the 100 foot ranger tower.
The Forest History was an excellent stop for Minnesota history, family history, and a lot of fun. We’re glad we made the trip.
It had old cabins. I liked the ride that we got.