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


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 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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Silent Auction Items

Stop in an bid on these fabulous items in our annual Silent Auction fundraiser. Bidding is open now and ends at 3:00 on Saturday during our open house.


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Silent Auction

The Pope County Historical Society has announced its annual Christmas Open House will be held Saturday December 7th from 1-5:00 p.m. Once again this year, there will be a silent auction. Baskets will be set up throughout the museum. Funds raised will support the mission of the Historical Society to foster among people an awareness of Pope County history so that they can draw strength and perspective from the past and find purpose for the future.

You can be a part of this year’s fun event by assembling your own basket or contributing an item of gift certificate to fill a basket assembled by museum volunteers. Cash donations are also accepted. Items can be brought to the museum during museum hours Tuesday – Saturday 10-5 or can be picked up at your location by request.

Bidding on items will begin Tuesday, December 3rd at 10:00 a.m. and bidding will end on Saturday, December 7th at 3:00. For more information, call the Pope County Museum at 634-3293.143

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Creepy Dolls

Our friends at the History Center of Olmstad County are asking the public to vote on the creepiest doll in their collection.  That inspired me to bring out a few of our creepy dolls.

But first, a little story about the doll collection.

When I was a little girl, I loved to see the dolls at the museum. They were in a glass case, tucked into an exhibit in the corner of the museum. You couldn’t get close to the case, but you could see the pretty dresses on the dolls.

Museum December 2016 (103 of 180)When I started working at the museum, the doll case had been moved into a walkway. Visitors could see the dolls much better. I didn’t pay much attention to the doll case until it was time to inventory the dolls.

As we carefully photographed and cataloged each doll, it became clear that many of the dolls were in poor condition. Most of the dolls came from Agnes Hovde. She actually donated most of the toy collection. Her dolls were…. well loved. Many of the porcelain doll heads were broken and were sporting inexpert home repairs.

The other issue with dolls is that they are often made of unstable materials. Early plastics, rubber, and painted cloth do not age well.

In 2017 we dismantled all the exhibits in the back of the museum to make room for the new storage area and new exhibits. The dolls were carefully packed away and have not been put back on display. (You can see all our dolls on-line here.)

So, today I pulled out a few of the dolls to find a few creepy examples….and was indeed creeped out!

One of the dolls was leaking something from the back of her head. There was a wet stain on the acid-free tissue and she was wet to the touch! She has been packed away for three years, so this was rather disturbing.
I have set her aside for some conservation work, so it was a good thing I opened her box.

It will take some research to figure out what is going on with her.

Here are a few of my other “favorite” creepy dolls:

Happy Halloween!!

P. S. We also have some really cool dolls in the collection. My favorite is the WPA Doll and the beautiful dolls in the Helbing collection such as the  Alaskan Doll. You can read about them by clicking on the links.

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The Veterans’ Wall is now Open!

The Veterans’ Wall is finally up! Half of the exhibit was taken down several years ago when we installed the compact storage system.MVIMG_20191015_111440.jpg

New metal custom frames from Glenwood Welding are up and the photos are in the frames! We needed new custom frames to mount on the metal mobile storage wall.


Brent spent hours adding new photographs and updating our list. We have so many new pictures, we had to add another panel!


Anyone who has ever called Pope County home and served in any branch of the military is eligible to be on the wall. If you or someone you know is missing from the wall, please bring in a photo and we will add you during the next update.

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Charles Beck Art Exhibit Open

“Artist + Muse,” an exhibit of woodcuts by Charles Beck from the Timothy Murphy Collection, is now open at the Pope County Museum through the end of October.Beck EVENING-CHORES-15x21

Charles Beck is an Ottertail County artist who created woodcut prints of landscapes, nature and farm scenes. Timothy Murphy was an admirer and friend of Beck and drew inspiration from Beck’s work to write poems on the same themes. “Artist + Muse” draws together the work of both men.

The exhibit at the Pope County Museum is the beginning of a year-long tour of this exhibit throughout western Minnesota and eastern North Dakota. It is made possible by the collaboration of The Rourke Art Gallery & Museum, Moorhead, the Timothy Murphy family, the Lake Region Arts Council, and exhibit venues across western Minnesota. This activity is funded in part by a grant from the Lake Region Arts Council through a Minnesota state legislative appropriation.

Charles Beck was born in 1923 in Fergus Falls. Beck began drawing in grade school beck cuttingwhere he would trade his works for candy and marbles. He graduated from Concordia College, Moorhead, in 1948, and from the University of Iowa in 1950. He served as a pilot in the Naval Air Force before returning to Fergus Falls to work as a sign painter. In 1960 he joined the faculty at Fergus Falls Community College and taught for 27 years.

Poet Timothy Murphy was born in Hibbing, Minnesota, and graduated from Yale Beck_TimothyMurphyUniversity, where he participated in the Scholar of the House program. He was a partner in a large-scale hog farm and a businessperson. His books include the poetry collections The Deed of Gift (1998), Very Far North (2002), Mortal Stakes • Faint Thunder (2011), and Hunter’s Log (2011), as well as a memoir, Set the Ploughshare Deep: A Prairie Memoir (2000). He has also translated Beowulf. Though hunting and farming are essential subjects for his writing, myths and legends influence his work as well.

“Artist + Muse” -an exhibit of work by artist Charles Beck and poet Timothy Murphy- will be on display at the Pope County Museum through October 30. Hours are Tuesday – Saturday, 10 – 5. The impact of this exhibit is much richer in person. Stop by today!Beck birds

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