150th birthday exhibit open at library; Otter Tail history program set Nov. 15

Otter Tail County is currently celebrating its sesquicentennial (that’s the 150th anniversary of being a county.) 

Otter Tail County Historical Society director Chris Schuelke will speak November 15 at the Pelican Library. He is pictured here, during September festivities celebrating the founding of the county 150 years ago.

Why did people come here through the last 150 years? What kept them here?  Why did you come? 

The Otter Tail County 150th Anniversary traveling exhibit will be on display in the Pelican Library from November 2 through November 28. Stop by the library and learn more about the people who made Otter Tail County what it is today. 

This traveling exhibit was made possible thanks to the research, design and collection of the Otter Tail County Historical Society and its staff and the monetary support of Lake Region Electric Cooperative and Lake Region Healthcare. 

Program on Otter Tail settlement is Nov. 15 at Pelican library 

On Thursday, November 15, at 7:00 p.m. at the Pelican Rapids Library, Chris Schuelke, executive director of the Otter Tail County Historical Society will speak. 

His program will focus on why people chose Otter Tail County and the challenges faced by early settlers. Chris is a passionate advocate for the collection, preservation and interpretation of our local history. 

One of the Otter Tail County 150th anniversary panels that is on display at the Pelican Rapids Public Library.
Notice photo on panel, lower right.
Pictured is Howard Carlson, one of the leaders in not only the local, but state turkey industry. Carlson died last week at age 93..

“I have always loved history but didn’t know what I could do to apply that,” Chris explained. “Then I became a costumed interpreter at Old World Wisconsin which is an outdoor, living history museum. I knew I had to pursue a career in history museums.” 

From there he went to Eastern Illinois University to get his MA in Historical Administration. 

“I applied for jobs all over,” Chris said. “The same week I interviewed in Otter Tail County, I interviewed for a park district position in Lisle, Illinois.” He grinned, “Fortunately I took the Otter Tail job.” 

Schuelke has been top Otter Tail historian for nearly 30 years 

He was hired as a curator in 1989 and became director of the OTCHS in 1991. 

This year, the 150th anniversary of the founding of the county, has been especially rewarding for Chris.  “I have always enjoyed theater and have tried to find ways to incorporate theater and storytelling with historical interpretation,” he explained. “Hearing so many interesting stories from people as we were conducting story swaps for the play and in putting together new tours in New York Mills and Henning was wonderful. I will never stop learning new things about Otter Tail County.”  

He even acted in Otter Tail County: the Musical, the extravaganza which was performed over three days in four communities, one of which was Pelican. “It was an experience for the ages!”

Join Chris Schuelke on November 15 at 7:00 pm at the Pelican Rapids Library as he shares stories and enthusiasm about Otter Tail County–his home and ours.