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Pioneer Park Historical Complex opens for the season Memorial Day weekend

Kerry Bloedorn
Pioneer Park Historical Complex

Pioneer Park Historical Complex in Rhinelander is opening for its 90th season this weekend.

Pioneer Park Historical Complex is known for the big steam engine and the logging museum.

But it actually features seven different museums ranging from the Antique Outboard Motor and Boat Museum to one about the Civilian Conservation Corps.

It also includes an exhibit featuring the Hodag.

“There’s some of the oldest, most authentic Hodags anywhere in the known galaxy right here at the logging museum at pioneer park historical complex,” said Director Kerry Bloedorn.

Bloedorn says it’s constantly the historical complex is always growing and adding more pieces of Northwoods history where it can.

“There’s always something new to learn about and on top of that we’re always trying to preserve the charm of the museum that it’s been for 90 years, but also make little changes to make it more exciting to keep it fresh, both local and out of the area,” said Bloedorn.

Pioneer Park is fundraising for two major projects this summer to help preserve even more pieces of history.

One project is to move an old pioneer cabin to the complex. That fundraiser will officially launch later this summer.

The other one is for the complex’s well-known steam engine. It recently got a new platform under it and a fresh paint job.

“Myself and a couple other staff members here spent a lot of time repainting it which was quite a chore. We’re talking respirators, googles, and a full body suit, and still at the end of the day I would go home with paint all over the place. But it’s got a beautiful new coat, a sheen of black paint on it. It looks really, really good. As good as it has in quite a while,” said Bloedorn.

Now Bloedorn wants to get a cover over it to protect all the work they’ve done from Wisconsin’s harsh weather.

People can donate to either project through the Rhinelander Community Foundation.

The room schoolhouse at Pioneer Park Historical Complex.
Pioneer Park Historical Complex.
The room schoolhouse at Pioneer Park Historical Complex.

The Pioneer Park Historical Complex was open for Saturday for the Hodag Heritage Festival but it officially opens for the season Saturday, May 28.

The complex is still looking for paid staff and volunteers for the summer, especially for the one room schoolhouse.

“A lot of people are very knowledgeable and interested in learning about the various buildings that are here, but it really takes a special person a teacher to staff the museum, the one room schoolhouse museum,” said Bloedorn. “Since 1976, that building has been staffed by retired and current teachers, educators, aids, other people in the education world and we really want to keep that going because it makes that museum very special.”

Anyone interested can contact Bloedorn for more information at 715-550-8221 or email rhinelanderpphc@gmail.com

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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