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Chisholm Community Foundation Makes Grants to MDC – Hometown Focus

George Sletta, cart operator at the Minnesota Discovery Center, holds a Chisholm Community Foundation memorial plaque that will hang in the Mesaba and Glen carts following the CCF grant to help fund new sound systems in the carts. Photo submitted.

CHISHOLM – The Minnesota Discovery Center (MDC) announced Aug. 29 that it has successfully installed two new cart sound systems and four critical pieces of equipment at the Iron Range Research Center (IRRC) with two grants totaling $19,497 from the Chisholm Foundation (CCF) community during the last CCF grant cycle.

Director of Fund Development and Marketing, Jordan Metsa, said, “We cannot thank the Chisholm Community Foundation enough for their continued support. Replacing the cart sound systems and equipment at the Iron Range Research Center will help us better serve the thousands of visitors who come to the Discovery Center each year to learn about our regions past and even research their own family history.

Specifically, the funds will help replace two outdated trolley audio systems used to communicate historical facts to trolley passengers during tours. Additionally, the grant funds will enable MDC to replace a 25-year-old microfilm reader with a new digital microfilm machine, a device used to project and enlarge images stored on microfilm into readable proportions. The funds will also be used to purchase a new printer, computer and vertical viewing monitor for use by visitors, students and scholars researching various topics.

“We are very grateful to have received this funding opportunity to update our cart audio system and research center equipment,” said MDC Museum Curator Allyse Freeman. “It’s such a central part of our mission and how we serve the public. With this new equipment, our amazing cart operators can now share the history of our region in a much clearer way and allow visitors to better understand our history The staff at the MDC Research Center will also be able to better assist people who are examining their own family history to better understand their history.

The Mesaba Electric Railroad operated what were then called intercity streetcars between Gilbert and Hibbing from 1912 to 1927, according to the Minnesota Streetcar Museum. This transportation option connected communities and changed the way the Iron Rangers lived, worked, and recreated. Today, the Minnesota Discovery Center trolley line connects the visitor center and indoor museum to historic Glen Location, a former mining town. MDC’s two electric trolleys were built in Melbourne, Australia in 1928 and are similar to Mesaba Electric Railway equipment.

With this new equipment, MDC can increase visitor engagement and appreciation of local history. Specifically, the two new trolley sound systems will help MDC provide a better experience for trolley passengers who want to see, hear and learn about local history. Old sound systems made it difficult for guests to hear interesting historical facts and were not conducive to visitor engagement. New sound systems, along with equipment in the Research Center, will help visitors connect with the Iron Rangers of the past.

The total cost of these two projects was approximately $36,407. The CCF provided $19,497 in grants, and the remaining $16,910 was covered by the MDC’s annual operating budget.