In Focus: “Trails Through Time” Unfolds Beltrami County’s History
The Beltrami County Historical Society in Bemidji is known for its rotating exhibits, but there’s one display that has stood the test of time. Trails Through Time has been at the museum for about 10 years.
The exhibit gives an extensive narrative of how Bemidji came to be and how it looked during the pre-settlement era to present day.
“Trails Through Time is really our signature show here at the Historical Society,” said Gary Rozman, volunteer and former Executive Director of Beltrami County Historical Society. “We like to host a number of rotating displays for the benefit of the residents of the county, and the surrounding areas, but the Trails Through Time does such a fantastic job of really laying out the story of this place, which I think really is our mission boils down to.”
The exhibit starts at the front of the museum and covers topics like Ojibwe history, logging in the area, Beltrami County’s changing landscape, and some important people.
“So, we’re going through the exploration by European adventurers and explorers, like Giacomo Beltrami; we’re going into the era of Jim Hill, the railroad and transportation magnate who built this station,” Rozman said.
The exhibit was funded by a grant from the George W. Neilson Foundation. It features a variety of artifacts, photographs and displays and interactive touchscreen stations. Trails Through Time represents a collective effort of individuals who’ve researched and designed the exhibit.
“Everyone from design instructors at Bemidji State University, folks from the history faculties at some of the tribal colleges in the region, members of the historical society also had input,” Rozman said.
Rozman says the exhibit has a unifying stylistic theme and everything is woven together.
The name “Trails Through Time” comes from the set-up of the exhibit. It allows visitors to learn about the history of Beltrami County in a smooth progression, moving from one gallery space to the next. This is one of the only semi-permanent exhibit at the Beltrami County Historical Society.