Alexandria museums collaborate to teach the history of local winter sports through two-part series

The classes are held via Zoom. The first class, hosted by the Legacy of the Lakes Museum, explores the origins of ice sports from curling to skating. The second class focuses on snow sports.

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Grayson Froemming skis ahead of his mother and grandmother on a cross-country ski trail at Lake Carlos State Park near Alexandria on Dec. 24, 2021.
Echo Press file photo

ALEXANDRIA — The Runestone Museum, in collaboration with the Douglas County Historical Society, Alexandria Community Education and The Legacy of the Lakes Museum will be presenting two “History at Home” courses on winter sports — how did they start and why do we do them?

The first course of the new year will be delivered in a two-part-part series called "History at Home: Snow and Ice" and will focus on the innovation of winter sports.

The first class will be hosted by Kaci Johnson, director of communications and programming at the Legacy of the Lakes Museum. She will explore "ice" sports and activities from curling to skating. The class will run on Thursday, Jan. 12 from 6 to 7 p.m. via Zoom.

"Before there were artificial rinks, these ice sports took place on frozen rivers, canals, and lakes, so it fit very well with our mission here at the Legacy of the Lakes Museum," Johnson said. "History at Home is a great way to take in some unique history, all from the comfort of your own home. Whether you’re a sports fan or a history buff, or even if you want to expand your horizons, these presentations are an engaging way to learn. Plus, it’s a great way to support your local museums."

Beaver pelts for blankets and snowshoes are part of the Fur Trade Era exhibit at the Runestone Museum.
Contributed photo.

The second class will be hosted by Amanda Seim, executive director of the Runestone Museum Foundation. She will detail the origins of snow sports made popular in Minnesota. From cross-country skiing and snowshoeing to ski jumping and skijoring.


"There are multitudes of surprising and interesting stories in these historical classes," said Seim. "For example, winter sports equipment, like snowshoes and skis, helped win armed conflicts and wars. And materials like bone were used before metal materials for items like ice skates."

Both Johnson and Seim say education programs are the museums' mission.

"By providing a series like History at Home, we give audiences a chance to interact with the museum in different ways and learn something new while they are at it," Johnson explained.

The two museum representatives added that during the Legacy of the Lakes' off-season, History at Home allows the museums to keep serving the community while also reaching are larger audience outside of the local community.

Seim says the online classes are only available live during the winter months but are available year-round through the museums,

"Our goal with these classes is to flesh out historical topics that we may deal with on a day-to-day basis or to highlight something that may often get overlooked with general history classes," said Seim.

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Kaylee Knabe of Kensington watches other players from the hockey net at the ice skating rink in Farwell in Feb. 2021.
Echo Press file photo

Research for topics generally begins about two months before the presentation, according to Johnson. She says the museums get together and discusses potential "umbrella themes."

Johnson said she read an article about the "oldest pair of ice skates found in the world," which sent her down a "rabbit hole of research." When it came time to discuss the topics for January she suggested winter sports.


"There are plenty of them to choose from and it would give me a chance to share what I learned," Johnson explained. "Amanda was on board and we decided the easiest split would be to do 'land and water.'"

"We also take class recommendations from our class participants, museum members, volunteers and visitors," Seim added.

Classes are the second and fourth Thursdays of January through March.

For more information on all classes available, head to or call the Runestone Museum at 320-763-3160

Thalen Zimmerman of Alexandria joined the Echo Press team as a full-time reporter in Aug. 2021, after graduating from Bemidji State University with a bachelor of science degree in mass communication in May of 2021.
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