Daniel Pennie House, Villard.

While the Pope County Museum is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be highlighting historic sites around Pope County. We hope that you can walk or drive to visit these sites while maintaining appropriate physical distancing.

Daniel Pennie House, Villard.


The Daniel Pennie House is associated with one of Pope County’s most prominent early settlers and is also notable for its unusual grout construction.  Pennie was one of the organizers of Pope County, holding the office of county commissioner for a number of years. He named Lake Leven and Leven Township after Loch Leven, Scotland, his boyhood home. 

A mason by trade, Mr. Pennie constructed this stone and concrete grout house during the 1870’s or 1880’s to replace an earlier log home. The corner tower was one of his trademarks.

His brick kiln produced the hardened brick used in a great many chimneys in the Villard area.

It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. Read the Application here.

The home is privately owned and has had several additions and improvements over the years.



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Terrace Mill District

While the Pope County Museum is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be highlighting historic sites around Pope County. We hope that you can walk or drive to visit these sites while maintaining appropriate physical distancing.

Terrace Mill District


The Terrace Historic District encompasses nearly the entire village once known as Chippewa Falls.  It was added into the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 and expanded in 1982. (Click the year to read the full applications for each year.)

The beautiful setting along the Chippewa River lends itself to water power milling. The Terrace mill, 1903, was one of five water powered and four steam powered mills in Pope County.  It operated through the late 1960’s. Some other structures in the historic district include the stone-arch bridge, 1903; Wheeler house, 1873; Moses house, 1873; Coburn hotel, 1870s; Takken house, 1930; general store, 1882 & 1905; townhall, 1906; and Chippewa Falls Church, 1886.  The Terrace Mill is now a cultural center hosting a number of summertime events including a children’s theatre workshop.




Grand opening in 1904



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Peters Sunset Beach Hotel

While the Pope County Museum is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be highlighting historic sites around Pope County. We hope that you can walk or drive to visit these sites while maintaining appropriate physical distancing.

Peters Sunset Beach Hotel


Peters Sunset Beach Hotel was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.  Henry Peters organized a company in 1914 to build the hotel. In continuous operation since opening on June 1, 1915, the Sunset Beach Hotel remains the most visible link to one of Pope County’s most significant industries; its seasonal visitors.  The Hotel’s historic character and craftsman style details have not been lost despite significant change and expansion.

The current Peters Sunset Beach Resort features not only the historic hotel, but also cabins, condominiums, and family reunion cabins. Recreational options include an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, boating, and swimming.



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Northern Pacific Depot, Villard

While the Pope County Museum is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be highlighting historic sites around Pope County. We hope that you can walk or drive to visit these sites while maintaining appropriate physical distancing.

Northern Pacific Depot, Villard


The standard, unassuming plan of the Villard Depot betrays its historic significance.  As a shipping point for agricultural products and supply point for local businesses, the depot played a pivotal role in the town’s commerce and, indeed, represents the primary factor which determined the establishment of the community.  The Little Falls and Dakota Branch of the Northern Pacific Railway was constructed in 1882, providing a link between the Northern Pacific at Little Falls and the St. Paul and Pacific at Morris, opening better access between Pope County agricultural producers and shipping facilities at Duluth.  The village was platted the same year on land owned by John and Calista Williams, and the depot building was constructed. The town was named after Henry Villard, president of the Northern Pacific Railroad at the time that the plat was made.


Villard Depot in 1993

The depot was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. Follow the link to read the application.

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Urjans Iverson Cabin, Gilchrist

While the Pope County Museum is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be highlighting historic sites around Pope County. We hope that you can walk or drive to visit these sites while maintaining appropriate physical distancing.

Urjans Iverson Cabin


The Urjans Iverson Cabin was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.  

Urjans and Brita Iverson came to Pope County in 1866, about the time Fort Lake Johanna was abandoned. They used the logs from the fort to build their cabin. This fort was used by Federal Troops after the U.S. – Dakota War.
The Iversons left Pope County in 1868.  The next owner of the cabin was Knud Vaa / Knute Torgeson.

Knute Torguson Vaa came to Pope County in 1869. He was a Civil war Volunteer who served in Compay D. 50th Regiment Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. His Company was sent west to the Dakotas in 1862 during the U.S. – Dakota War.  He was married to Bergitte Sandvig, who was a sister of John Johnson Sandvig, one of the first settlers of Pope County. 

Once the Iverson family left, the cabin was converted to a school house for district #13 in 1869. It was also used as the first West Lake Johanna Church. The benches were built by Ole Kittelson. A new church was constructed in 1874 and a new school was constructed in 1886. Once the building was no longer needed by the community, the Vaa family used the cabin as a blacksmith shop.

The Iverson Cabin was restored in the fall of 1991. The restoration used logs from the original Gregor and Svanaugh Halvorson Stordal cabin. The Halvorsons were the first settlers in the area. According to their homestead patent, they resided on the land starting May 23, 1865.  and constructed a comfortable house 15 x 20 feet one story high, with a double pitch turf and board roof. The house had 2 floors, 1 door, and 1 window. Logs from that original cabin can be found in the current Iverson cabin.



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Northern Pacific Depot, Starbuck

While the Pope County Museum is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be highlighting historic sites around Pope County. We hope that you can walk or drive to visit these sites while maintaining appropriate physical distancing.

Northern Pacific Depot, Starbuck


Starbuck Depot in 1993

Added to the National Register of Historic Places is pending, the Starbuck Depot holds a proud place in the history of Starbuck.  Located in the heart of the business district, the depot was ideal for shipping and receiving for main street businesses. The Little Falls and Dakota branch of the Northern Pacific Railroad provided speedy access to distant markets resulting in greater economic return for local products.  Mail and passenger service, even a ride to school, were also supplied by the rail line. The Starbuck Depot continues to be a contributing asset to the community after restoration by dedicated volunteers. The Starbuck Depot Society hosts four civic events annually, offers tours and generally boosts civic pride in a property which has significantly impacted the community and its development.


Starbuck Depot in 1909

The Starbuck Directory has the following information:

The Starbuck Depot Museum serves a center for the community of Starbuck to gather and reminisce. It is a place that celebrates the rich Norwegian heritage of Starbuck and the railway that ran through it. Memories of old school days and a younger Starbuck live here.

The beginning of train service in Starbuck was heralded by a shrill steam whistle on Nov. 10, 1882. The last train left without fanfare on July 15, 1983.

This 90 mile line from Morris to Little Falls was built using horses and dirt scrapers. It provided passenger and mail service as well as freight hauling of building materials, machinery, fuel, fertilizer, livestock, grain, cream and eggs.
The local dray line picked up merchandise at the depot and delivered it to the merchants.

The depot building was closed after the passenger service was discontinued in 1954. After a merger in 1960, the railway became known as the Burlington Northern. In June, 1986, the Starbuck Depot Society was organized to restore and maintain the depot building and grounds and a grand opening was held on May 16, 1992.

The Depot Society was responsible for four major annual events held at the depot: Lefse Dagen, Heritage Days, Eple Tiden, and Juletre Lysning.

It is believed that the City of Starbuck was named after Mr. William H. Starbuck of New York, who financed the construction of this railway. He was a friend of Henry Villard who was the president of the N.P.R.R. 1881-1884.


For more information, contact the Pope County Museum, or you can read the entire National Register application form here.

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Capture History as it Happens

Please consider keeping a journal during these unusual times.

And consider sharing it with us for future researchers.

Writer’s block? Here are some tips for journaling the pandemic:

How do you express your thoughts? Pick the journal format that works best for you.  If not a written journal, maybe it is a daily audio recording or photo project.

Include your personal reactions to the following types of situations:
  • Working from home
  • Changes to your routine tasks, such as grocery shopping
  • The news media reports
  • Your own illness or that of a family member
Include what you have been doing to pass the time at home:
  • What did you do to stay in good spirits while in quarantine?
  • What is your favorite music, movie or television program to stream during a pandemic?
  • How did you interact with others without putting them or yourself at risk?
  • If you have chosen to ignore the guidelines, what is that like?
Include thoughts about other specific situations during the pandemic:
  • What have you struggled with during quarantine?
  • If you are a medical care worker, what is it like?
  • If you own or manage a business, how did the pandemic impact you?
  • If you had to continue working on-site at your job, what changes did you have to make to your workday?
  • If you became unemployed, how are you dealing with it?
  • How was the pandemic presented to your children?
  • How did your children react to being out of school?

Maybe you take photos of the changes in the community.

Here are a few photos I have taken in the past few days around Glenwood of wooden Easter Eggs, hearts in windows, and decorated sidewalks to make walks more fun. The playgrounds are closed off, but there is food in the little free libraries.

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COVID-19 – Help Capture Your Story

Our friends at Douglas County Historical Society are the creators of this project, but we want to capture Pope County stories as well.
History is being made daily, and we are here to capture the local stories, even if we are temporarily closed.

Everyone’s experience matters.

Your history matters. Help us record your history. 

With events being as momentous as they are in Minnesota, we’d like to offer a tool in the form of a Self-History Interview to help us begin recording the daily lived experiences during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Right now we have no way of knowing how significant of an event this may be, but we want to ensure we leave behind plenty of written records of the actual Pope County experience for future scholars and historians.

Click the link below for a digital copy of our COVID-19 Self-History Interview, or keep scrolling to see the guided questions to get you started so you can record your own history in this moment.
You don’t have to answer each questions – or even stick to the questions. Just start writing or typing your story. You will be glad you did.


Please consider donating a copy of your responses (if local to Pope County, MN) to the Pope County Historical Society, MN. If not local to Pope County, MN, please feel free to use this form and send it on to your local historical archive should they want it.

You can mail a copy of your interview to:
Pope County Historical Society
809 South Lakeshore Drive
Glenwood, MN 56334

Or email a copy of your self-history interview to popecountymuseum@gmail.com


Self-History Interview Worksheet in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic 2020
(Please feel encouraged to repeat the self-history interview throughout the event. Be as specific and thorough about documenting your thoughts as possible. There are no right or wrong answers. Tangents are okay. Attaching more paper is okay.)

Whose experience is being recorded?
Who is doing the recording?
When/Where is this experience being recorded?

How have I adapted my life so far? Have I had to change my daily routine? How so?

What does my daily life usually look like? What does it look like right now?

What do I think about the current situation? Broadly? Specifically?

What am I afraid of? Broadly? Specifically?

How am I handling the situation? Am I working on certain projects? How am I passing my time? Am I helping others?

Am I staying isolated for my safety or the safety of those close to me?

How do I feel about official responses?

Does this pandemic remind me of anything else?

What is my plan moving forward?

What are my hopes for the future?


The legal release below is incredibly important should this self-history interview ever be used in a future study, archive, book, exhibit, documentary, etc. whether 50 years from now or 150 years.

I, ________________________, do hereby irrevocably release, assign, give and convey to The Pope County Historical Society, any and all right, title, and interest, including any copyright or intellectual property interest, in the self-history interviews attached. I understand that the Interviews will be deposited in the Pope County Historical Society for the use of future scholars and may be used for any lawful purpose in all forms and media including but not limited to public presentations, audio or video documentaries, CD-ROMs, internet publications, slide-tape presentations, exhibits, and advertising and related promotion through the world in perpetuity. I expressly authorize disclosure of the Interviews to meet these purposes to the extent that the Interviews would be considered an education record under federal law.

Date: ________________

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Museum closed – but you can visit on-line

Due to the unfolding Pandemic, the Pope County Museum will be closed at least until March 31.

Staff will check in and respond to e-mails and phone calls, but the museum will not be open to the public.

HOWEVER – We have almost every object and many of the photographs in the museum available on-line. Visit MNCollections.org to see our collection and items from museums around the state. There are over 100,000 records available!


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High Voltage – POSTPONED TO JAN 25

Picture1HIGH VOLTAGE: A Citizens Movement to Resist the CU High Voltage DC Transmission Line across West Central Minnesota, 1974-1980, Synopsis.

Join us on Saturday, January 25, 2020 (note date change) at 1:00 as we host Luther Gerlach presenting “High Voltage!” a 90 minute program about the DC powerline project across West Central Minnesota.

Luther Gerlach will speak about the resistance in West Central MN to the CU High Voltage Transmission line.  He has completed an audiovisual documentary using stills and film he and his wife, Ursula, took during the resistance as well as local newspaper photos and clips. Gerlach is professor emeritus of anthropology at the UMN Twin Cities campus, and used the powerline conflict in his classroom lectures. The completed documentary has many chapters, but his presentation at the Pope County Museum is the Draft synopsis.

Gerlach states, “Public response to energy development or supply is a social fact as important to the provision and use of energy as are facts of biology, geology, physics, economics.”

Spread word of this to those who might be interested.  All are welcome. There will be time for comments and questions.

“I think that you will find the presentation interesting and, I hope, an accurate representation of what happened. Also, I trust that I have used clips and photos with care and accuracy. I will use feedback to complete the final version of the production,” says Gerlach.


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