‘Saturday at the Society’ headed to McKinley location

Iron Range Historical Society Board Member Sandy Markovich's mining-related artwork was featured at last month's first "Saturday at the Society." The IRHS is holding an event at its McKinley location one Saturday each month. This Saturday's event will feature the works of four local authors.

McKINLEY — A vintage photo of “three men and one very large pan” is just one of the recent images the Iron Range Historical Society posted to Facebook.

“Cooking for Paul Bunyan?” was one commenter’s response.

The social media page also has photos of “the first shoemaker” in Mountain Iron; employees at Aurora Drug in 1976; Ely’s 1891 Fourth of July celebration; and a page from a 1985 edition of the Biwabik Times displaying photos of the Miss Biwabik candidates.

There are far more photos, bound volumes of newspapers, along with cabinets chock-full of historic information at the IRHS’ office in a old stone building in McKinley.

And, “to get visitors to come see us, we are starting ‘Saturday at the Society,’” said Mike Sterk, IRHS president.

One Saturday each month during the summer, the IRHS is opening its doors to the public not only for regular access to its archives, but also for activities and events.

The second of this season’s Saturday at the Society is set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. this weekend. It will highlight Iron Range authors Jim Koepke, S. Fabian Butalla, Gary Kaunonen and Kathy Bergan, who will discuss their latest work. There will also be a book sale and coffee an.’

Another event is planned for Aug. 17. Further information will be posted to the Facebook page, Sterk said.

Last month, Saturday at the Society featured local artist and IRHS Board Member Sandy Markovich’s mining-related paintings.

The IRHS, founded in 1973, moved last year from old village hall in Gilbert to its current site in McKinley.

“We have more spacious quarters than we did there,” Sterk said, offering a “big thanks to the city of McKinely” for welcoming and supporting the volunteer-run historical society.

While the IRHS has limited regular hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays, it is also open by appointment, Sterk noted.

In addition to “a lot of photo collections,” IRHS has East Range newspapers and all sorts of research materials, he said.

IRHS volunteers are currently working to digitize thousands of photographs, inventory school annuals, maintain obituary files and organize recent acquisitions.

“Everyone is welcome to come over” whether doing family or mining research — or if a person is simply interested in Iron Range history. “They don’t have to be a member to research.”

The staff is always happy to assist, he added.

As for the “large pan” picture — well, thanks to page followers, the men shown with the gigantic skillet have been identified as members of an Ely family.

No word, however, on exactly how the big pan was used.

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