Hidden History – by Thomas Landgren. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Hidden History – by Thomas Landgren. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports


Growing up in a house that is over 110 years old there are always projects going on. When summer rolls around it seems like we have a new project going on every week. Ever since the Duluth flood we have been working on fixing leaks in our basement. This summer we went around the outside of our house and dug a trench to help stop some of the areas that leak whenever there is a light drizzle we seem to have a leak. We got to work right away this summer. We found many little treasure like coins, silverware, and other miscellaneous trinkets. There was one treasure we found that really peaked all of our interests. It was an old glass milk bottle that sported the words “Woodland Dairy”. The milk bottle was in remarkable condition for being buried in a pile of rocks and old pieces of metal. We set it aside to take a further look at it when we finished the project.


When we were done we went to work cleaning it up and trying to get all of the mud and grime off so that we could see all of the words that made up the “Label”. After a couple of hours of research we learned something new about a very popular place in Duluth. Hartley Nature Park is a very popular place in Duluth with the bike trails, hiking trails, and creeks many people love to go up there and experience the nice little slice of outdoors that is still close to the city. Before this popular place was turned into a park the land was split up into many different farms. Researching we came across that the park was a pine plantation and 50 acres made up a small dairy farm that consisted of 80-100 cows. This farm was named Woodland Dairy farm. The pasture was cleared for the farm in the late 1800’s and in 1924 Woodland Dairy stopped their operation never stating the cause for the cease of operations. It’s always interesting to learn something new about a place that my family and I have visited over a hundred times. Just remember history is all around us.


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The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu


Filed under North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang, Thomas Landgren

20 responses to “Hidden History – by Thomas Landgren. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

  1. Pingback: Hidden History – by Thomas Landgren. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports | Professor Liang 梁弘明教授

  2. Pingback: Hidden History – by Thomas Landgren. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports | The Middle Ground Journal

  3. Alex Oliver

    I have been through that area many times all year round! I have gone biking, hiking, and running through Hartley so many times, I cannot count. I am trying to picture what the sights must have looked like at that time, so many years ago. It is amazing that so many trees and much of the forest is filled up, and the trails that are there now, I would have never thought that there was farmland there. It is kind of cool for me to picture where those houses used to be, because most of the area is hills and look out points. That area is a great place to be, it is a little rugged that it used to be because of the storm that we had this past summer where it completely destroyed trees and trails with the high winds and lightning.

    • Maria Nowak

      This is an interesting article! I’ve only ever been to Hartley once before, but it truly is a beautiful nature center. I really like that you and your family took the time to look in to this “Woodland Dairy” bottle. I think most people would have seen it and probably recycled it right away. There are really cool and amazing stories about the history of people and the history of places if we take the time to learn about them. Sometimes we forget to reflect on the people and places that came before us, which is often times a mistake. We can learn so much from those who have had different experiences than us, even when they grew up in the same area as ourselves. Asking questions and being curious is a great quality to have, so thank you for sharing your experience! Do you often find many cool pieces of history with your family when you do these summer projects? Thank you for your article!

  4. That is pretty neat to find a piece of Duluth’s history “bottled” up into an everyday object–one would least expect in the 1800s I bet–such as a milk bottle. What does your family plan to do with such a historic piece of evidence? Donate it to a museum? Maybe even the Hartley Nature Center? I think the unexpected experience that came from the task of maintaining your home cemented a greater appreciation for the place you call home under the recognition that there is still more to learn. Who knows, maybe one of your household item will serve as historic evidence to Duluthians in the 2100s!

  5. That extra bit of knowledge adds a deeper and more complex picture of this park donated so many years ago to the City of Duluth. The next time I meander through Hartley’s gravely trails, I will strive to imagine the mooing of cows in the swampy grasses and the intentional babying of the thick pine trees. It would be interesting to discover if some of the abandoned structures within Hartley Park are leftovers- storing sheds part of the pine plantation or the Woodland Dairy farm. This glimpse of history comes at a vital time for Hartley. Within the last year, extensive changes have occurred at the park. Between the tree thinning and the heavy thunderstorm, sections of the park have been left dangerous, impassable, and desolate. The landscape of Hartley Nature Center has been altered dramatically. These changes have seemed distressing in a place that many considered to be a sanctuary untouched by the world around it. I find comfort knowing that my experiences today, both positive and negative, intersect with only a small section of Hartley’s history. Like the bottle, these events are layers to the history of the park. Let the story continue.

  6. What a cool find! You are lucky to live in a place that has been through so much. I also admire you and your family for actually saving and following up on the milk bottle; I am afraid I would have just thrown it away if I found it at my house.This suggests that, like you said, there are things all around us waiting to be discovered. Sometimes we just need to look a little closer. Thank you for sharing this with us!

  7. Taylor Erickson

    There’s something incredibly fascinating about finding unexpected links to the past. I also live in a very old house, and when I was little I’d leave letters in the basement for a new family to find if we ever moved. The idea that I was leaving some record of the past and making connections with the future seemed important to me. Your story is a reminder of just how significant those connections can be; the bottle you found is a symbol of Hartley’s ever-evolving history. As a vital fixture in the Duluth community, it’s necessary that we understand Hartley’s past so we can fully appreciate it in the present- and preserve it in the future.

  8. It very neat that you found a piece of history on the grounds of your own home and went to research it further! A friend of mine lives in an old house too. While they were remodeling a portion of the house, they found pieces of old newspapers inside their walls! It was very cool to connect Duluth’s past by reading about what was happening during previous time periods. Connecting with the past can often give people a sense of wholeness with their community, in this case you with your family’s community as well as Hartley’s significance/place in the Duluth community.

  9. Christopher Killian

    It is always fascinating that everything has a history behind it. I am surprised that the milk bottle was still intact and that you were able to research it and not just throw it away. I often go to flea markets and see many old glass bottles and never think anything of it. I think there is more value to piece of history you find on your own especially somewhere you have grown up. It is nice to find something that you can share with other that hold value to your community. I wonder what other sorts of history you can find around your house.

  10. Jayce

    This is awesome!! Being raised in Duluth, for the last half of my teenage years I felt I had known all there was to know about our small town. Stories like this are what keep me totally open to learning more. I think it is very cool that you and your family not only found this bottle but researched it and shared what you found with us. Stories like this inspire me to want to explore more often and see what else this town had yesteryear!

  11. Isabella

    It is so interesting to delve into the world of the past, esipecially when it’s in an area you are so familiar with as it is now. We usually have a strange habit of only thinking of a place in its current state, and only for the time we are there. It’s almost as if it ceases to exist before and after we have left, like it was created for our leisure only.
    There is a very tiny playhouse-like log cabin in my front yard, and often times my mother and I wonder if it was used 100 years ago for the children that lived there, or as a chicken coop.
    History is so interesting, but also fleeting. It’s simply amazing what you can learn if you dig a little, but also just as interesting that those things could be lost to you if you never take the time to do so.

  12. McKenna Holman

    How awesome that you’ve found a little piece of the past in your own home! It is really neat knowing that a place that is so popular to Duluth has so much history behind it and that you found evidence! I think it is really neat that you guys took the time to actually research where the bottle was from. I can imagine that a lot of people would just throw it away and not think twice about it, so props to you guys for going the extra step and finding out what it actually was! I think learning about the history of where we are from is always important. It is simply not enough to just know where you live, you should continue to want to learn more and try to find out everything you can. History is so important, even if it is just finding a milk bottle and discovering an old farm in a park!

  13. Ian

    Discovering the history of your home town is always exciting. Especially since most of us never think to talk to the elders who might have memories of places like that. My brother and I found that in his 100 year old house they had used old local newspapers for insulation. While it was not the most fire-safe choice some of it could still be read and he now has it framed on his wall.

  14. Amanda Greene

    This article is very inspiring! Although I have only lived in Duluth for a few months, this makes me curious to find out more about the city. It also makes me wonder what else is hidden around familiar places that hold so much history. I thought a lot about how you can become so unaware of where in the world you are living and what it used to be like. It’s important to remember that many other people have been in the same place as you. This is only just a milk bottle, but it also gives a little window of how Duluth was during that time. I wonder what people will find of ours in the future that they will consider fascinating.

  15. Megan Bingham

    I agree, history is all around us and we just don’t look at little details to notice it. This story is so interesting for my because I live next to my uncles dairy farm and it makes me want to dig around and see what I could find from my grandfathers time owning the farm and even his fathers time owning the farm. I love learning about the history of my own family because it is interesting to see “what” I have come from. My father is adopted so I will never know that half of my history and that may be a strong drive for me to find out as much as I can about my mother’s family.

  16. Sarah Plankers

    This is such an interesting article, I never knew about Woodland Dairy Farm. I spend a decent amount of time exploring the Hartley trails with my friends, so it’s exciting that I can now visualize all the cows that used to populate the area. Duluth has such a rich and interesting history that I think many of us (especially busy college kids) don’t realize or care to learn about. Finding small artifacts such as that milk bottle can lead to fun, real-life mysteries that allow us to reminisce on our childhood. Moreover, I think it’s quite mind-blowing to think about future generations finding remnants and artifacts from our current civilization and looking back on things we did and grasping how much has changed over time. Humans are many things, but adaptable and ever-changing sure are two ways that explain this Woodland Dairy Farm discovery.

  17. Angela Pecarina

    Thank you Thomas! This reminded me of my brother because he is doing some remodeling on his house and is finding old hidden stuff too! It is so interesting when you think about the people that held these objects before us. We, will be just the same to those in the future. I am sure finding that bottle made your family sit back and admire your house more. even though you said there is always projects. Good story!

  18. Tessa Erickson-Thoemke

    This is such a cool find! I’m impressed that you were able to “dig up” that much information just from the words on a grimy label. I agree with you, it’s truly remarkable how history is all around us whether we know it or not. Your story reminded me of the Harappan culture of Afro-Eurasia. According to Tignor, very little is known about this culture and its people because “its remains lie buried under deep silt deposits accumulated over thousands of years of heavy flooding” (2018, p. 66). Hopefully someday these remains will finally be dug up just like your “Woodland Dairy” milk bottle! Are there any other great treasures like this one your family has found in your backyard? Thanks for sharing!

  19. Jan Farun

    Very cool discovery! I’m amazed by what we can find laying around or buried around places that we live. I’m not from Duluth, so I don’t know much about history if this town, but it is fascinating to find little pieces of information here and there.

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