Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post, Minnesota Historical Society, Onamia, Minnesota

Exploring Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post

Cover: Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post, Minnesota Historical Society, Onamia, Minnesota
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


While visiting the Mille Lacs Lake area, we stopped by the Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post to learn more about the history of the area and the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, who are believed to have settled in region in the 1700s.

A combination of beautiful exhibits, interactive displays, learning stations and educational information, the museum provides a view into the history and lives of the Ojibwe people and, next door, the Trading Post sells handcrafted American Indian arts and crafts.

Pow-wow outfits on display at Mille Lacs Indian Museum
Pow-wow outfits on display at Mille Lacs Indian Museum
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

History of the museum

Teaching displays at Mille Lacs Indian Museum
Teaching displays at Mille Lacs Indian Museum
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Built in 1996, the museum is one of 26 Minnesota Historical Society sites and museums and is located on the southwest shore of Mille Lacs Lake near Onamia, Minnesota.

The museum resides on the former property of Harry and Jeanette Ayers who began renting cabins on the grounds in the early 1920s. By the late 1930s, the Ayers were running a full resort business with cabins, boats, a trading post, gas station, and even a boat factory and maple syrup refinery.

Trading Post at Mille Lacs Indian Museum
Trading Post at Mille Lacs Indian Museum
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Avid collectors of American Indian artifacts, art and memorabilia, the Ayers amassed a vast collection over their years of procuring items for the Trading Post. In 1959, they donated their collection, the buildings and the land to the Minnesota Historical Society.

The donated buildings and collections served as the museum until 1996, when the current building was built as result of a partnership between the Minnesota Historical Society and the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.

Mille Lacs Indian Museum in Onamia, Minnesota
Mille Lacs Indian Museum in Onamia, Minnesota
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Visiting the Mille Lacs Indian Museum

Canoe at the Mille Lacs Indian Museum
Canoe at the Mille Lacs Indian Museum
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Visitors to the museum are treated to a wide variety of displays and exhibits, including hands-on activities for children.

Exhibits at the Mille Lacs Indian Museum
Exhibits at the Mille Lacs Indian Museum
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Exploring the spacious 22,810-square-foot museum, visitors learn the story of the Ojibwe people, from what their lives were like when they settled in the area to present day culture.

The Mille Lacs Indian Museum tells the history of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
The Mille Lacs Indian Museum tells the history of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Many exhibits incorporate both the Ojibwe language and English in their descriptions and provide a glimpse into life on the reservation. We were fortunate to tour the museum with Travis Zimmerman, a descendant of the Ojibwe who is Site Manager of the museum.

Travis Zimmerman in the Four Seasons Room, Mille Lacs Indian Museum
Travis Zimmerman in the Four Seasons Room
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Popular for school field trips, Travis pointed out that the museum provides a wide view of Indian history, accentuating the similarities, not the differences, in the tribes, customs, foods, music, and games.

Displays at the Mille Lacs Indian Museum
Displays at the Mille Lacs Indian Museum
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Exhibits from the Ojibwe people at the Mille Lacs Indian Museum
Exhibits from the Ojibwe people
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The jewel of the museum, the Four Seasons Room contains beautifully designed dioramas with life-size figures that depict the life of Ojibwe people throughout the changing seasonal activities.

Life-size figures in The Four Seasons Room at Mille Lacs Indian Museum
Life-size figures in The Four Seasons Room
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

From depictions of harvesting wild rice in the autumn to making maple syrup to hunting and berry picking, the exhibits are exceptional.

Life-size figures in the dioramas at The Four Seasons Room
Life-size figures in the dioramas at The Four Seasons Room
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

While the dioramas date back to 1964 in the previous version of the museum, the life-sized mannequins were added in 1972.

Mille Lacs Indian Museum, The Four Seasons Room
The Four Seasons Room
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Travis explained that casts of actual tribe members were used to create the figures. Imagine how amazing it must be for the children and grandchildren of those members when they visit the museum to see depictions of their parents and grandparents from decades before.

The Four Seasons Room, Mille Lacs Indian Museum
The Four Seasons Room, Mille Lacs Indian Museum
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The Trading Post

Moccasins at Trading Post
Moccasins at the Trading Post
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The Trading Post is located next to the museum and offers a large selection of traditional and contemporary American Indian art and crafts from tribes across North America.

The Trading Post offers American Indian art and crafts
The Trading Post offers American Indian art and crafts
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Home to an amazing assortment of artists’ works, the Trading Post’s items include beads, books, blankets, moccasins, birch bark products, paintings, sculptures, pottery, jewelry, dream catchers, and more.

Beads at Trading Post & Mille Lacs Indian Museum
Beads at the Trading Post
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

In addition to the items for sale, an exhibit area can be found just inside the entrance with historical items from the Trading Post and those who have visited over nearly a century.

Postcard from 1964 at Trading Post & Mille Lacs Indian Museum
Postcard from 1964 at Trading Post
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Know before you go

  • The museum and trading post are located at 43411 Oodena Dr., Onamia, MN 56359
  • Check the museum website for hours and admission fees.
  • Allow at least an hour to tour the museum and visit the trading post.

Disclosure & disclaimer: Special thanks to Explore Minnesota, Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post, the Minnesota Historical Society and Mille Lacs Area Tourism for hosting us as their guests. The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

American Mountaineering Museum, Golden, Colorado

American Mountaineering Museum in Golden Colorado

American Mountaineering Museum, Golden, Colorado
American Mountaineering Museum, Golden, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

A visit to the Bradford Washburn American Mountaineering Museum is a fascinating journey that educates, inspires and immerses one in the beauty, history, adventure & cultures found in the world’s mountains.

Located in downtown Golden, CO, the museum showcases the contributions of legendary mountaineers & climbers and their roles in history, while educating in an interactive environment.

American Mountaineering Museum, Golden, Colorado
American Mountaineering Museum, Golden, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Bringing Everest stories into perspective

American Mountaineering Museum, Golden, Colorado
Large-scale model of Mount Everest
American Mountaineering Museum, Golden, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

For anyone that has read an Everest expedition book or article, the push-pin marked routes on the large-scale model of Mt Everest bring the accounts to life.

View the historic West Ridge route climbed in 1963 by American Tom Hornbein & Willie Unsoeld or trace the first ascent climbed in 1953 by Edmund Hillary & Tenzing Norgay, while gaining a deeper understanding and respect for the bravery, adventure & skill these mountaineers have contributed to history.

American Mountaineering Museum, Golden, Colorado
American Mountaineering Museum, Golden, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Historical artifacts & mountaineering pioneers

The evolution & spirit of mountaineering is captured in the collection of historic items the museum displays.

American Mountaineering Museum, Golden, Colorado
Oxygen cylinder from the 1922 expedition to Everest lead by George Mallory.
American Mountaineering Museum, Golden, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
Peter Schoening's Ice Axe. Used to save the lives of five men during the 1953 American expedition that attempted K2. American Mountaineering Museum, Golden, Colorado
Peter Schoening’s Ice Axe. Used to save the lives of five men during the 1953 American expedition that attempted K2.
American Mountaineering Museum, Golden, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Living in & protecting our mountains

The museum educates with interactive, colorful exhibits ranging from learning more about the effect of altitude on humans to the cultures that live in the world’s mountains.

American Mountaineering Museum, Golden, Colorado
American Mountaineering Museum, Golden, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
American Mountaineering Museum, Golden, Colorado
American Mountaineering Museum, Golden, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

American Mountaineering Museum

Location: 710 10th Street Golden, CO 80401
Hours: Monday-Saturday, Closed Sunday
Phone: 303-996-2755
Website: mountaineeringmuseum.org

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Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum, Golden, Colorado

Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum

Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum, Golden, Colorado
Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum, Golden, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Oooh.” “Ah.” “That’s cool!

A visit to the Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum will result in those exclamations and more.

Located in Golden, Colorado, the Geology Museum is home to thousands of mineral, fossil, gemstone, meteorite and historic mining artifact exhibits on two floors.

The Geology Museum, which was started in 1874, is located in a beautiful building with natural light and plenty of room to view the amazing collections on display.

Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum, Golden, Colorado
Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum, Golden, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

From Azurite to Malachite to Ferberite to gold, the brilliant colors and rich textures are stunning.

Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum, Golden, Colorado
Longwave and shortwave ultraviolet fluorescent minerals, Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum, Golden, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum Highlights

Moon rocks from 2 Apollo missions, Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum, Golden, Colorado
Moon rocks from 2 Apollo missions, Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum, Golden, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
Murals by Irwin Hoffman originally exhibited at 1939 World's Fair depicting the development of mining, Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum, Golden, Colorado
Murals by Irwin Hoffman originally exhibited at 1939 World’s Fair depicting the development of mining, Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum, Golden, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
The Betty H Llewellyn Special Exhibit Room housing invited displays, Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum, Golden, Colorado
The Betty H Llewellyn Special Exhibit Room housing invited displays, Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum, Golden, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
A Light in the Darkness lighting display, Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum, Golden, Colorado
A Light in the Darkness lighting display, Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum, Golden, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Learn more

The Colorado School of Mines Museum is located in Golden, Colorado and is open Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sunday 1-4 p.m.

Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum, Golden, Colorado
Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum, Golden, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

The museum features specimens from many Colorado mining districts, an introductory video on area geology, radioactivity exhibits, fossils, gemstones, and meteorites.

Special thanks to Dr. Bruce Geller, Director & Curator of the Colorado School of Mines Museum

Location: 1310 Maple St Golden, CO 80401

Hours: Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sunday 1-4 p.m.

Phone: 303-273-3815

Website: Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum

Admission: Free

Colorado Railroad Museum

Colorado Railroad Museum

Colorado Railroad Museum
Colorado Railroad Museum
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Whether you are a train buff, photographer or just looking for something interesting to do for an afternoon, you will have a wonderful time at the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden, Colorado.

The Colorado Railroad museum, which is deservedly one of the top 10 Denver attractions, will have you amazed at the vast array of railroad history on hand.

Colorado Railroad Museum
Colorado Railroad Museum
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Colorado Railroad Museum: Preserving Colorado railroad history

As the railroad industry declined in the 1940’s, Bob Richardson began collecting pieces of railroad history – rolling stock, equipment, records and memorabilia.

By 1958, his collection had outgrown its home in Alamosa, CO and the museum was moved to Golden, where a replica railroad depot was built for the museum’s main building in 1959.

Colorado Railroad Museum
Colorado Railroad Museum
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Over the next five decades, the Colorado Railroad Museum grew to a collection of over 100 engines, cabooses and coaches on a 15 acre rail yard that includes the replica depot, a water tank, a G-scale garden railway, and working steam & diesel locomotives.

On the museum grounds is also the Robert H. Richardson Library, one of the largest railroad reference libraries in the U.S., with collections of rare photos, artifacts and documents and the Cornelius W. Hauk Restoration Roundhouse, a 5-bay roundhouse for railcar maintenance and restoration.

Colorado Railroad Museum
Colorado Railroad Museum
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Colorado Railroad Museum: Highlights

The Locomotives

Denver & Rio Grande Western No. 346, Colorado’s oldest operating steam locomotive
Denver & Rio Grande Western No. 346, Colorado’s oldest operating steam locomotive
Colorado Railroad Museum, Golden, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

 

Colorado Railroad Museum: Denver Leadville & Gunnison No. 191, the oldest steam locomotive in Colorado
Denver Leadville & Gunnison No. 191, the oldest steam locomotive in Colorado
Colorado Railroad Museum
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
Colorado Railroad Museum: Denver & Rio Grande Western No. 5771, which powered the ski train from Denver to Winter Park until 1996
Denver & Rio Grande Western No. 5771, which powered the ski train from Denver to Winter Park until 1996
Colorado Railroad Museum
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
Colorado Railroad Museum: Manitou & Pikes Peak No. 1, designed to climb steep mountain slopes and glades
Manitou & Pikes Peak No. 1, designed to climb steep mountain slopes and glades
Colorado Railroad Museum
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Passenger Cars

Colorado Railroad Museum
Colorado Midland, Observation Car No. 111
Colorado Railroad Museum
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
Colorado Railroad Museum: Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe, Observation Car Navajo
Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe, Observation Car Navajo
Colorado Railroad Museum
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

And much more…

Colorado Railroad Museum
Freight cars, Colorado Railroad Museum
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
Colorado Railroad Museum
Cabooses, Colorado Railroad Museum
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
The Ski Train, Colorado Railroad Museum
The Ski Train, Colorado Railroad Museum
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
Colorado Railroad Museum
Snow plows, Colorado Railroad Museum
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Colorado Railroad Museum: Special events & private parties

From a ride behind Thomas the Tank Engine™, to mailing a letter to Santa aboard the RPO railcar, the Colorado Railroad Museum has numerous themed and special events throughout the year including:

Ride the Rails Saturdays, Black History Month, Galloping Goose, RidesBunny Express, TrainTrick or Treat Train, Dinosaur Train, Santa Claus Special, and Day Out With Thomas.

The museum is also available for party rentals and private events.

Check the Colorado Railroad Museum website for specific dates, details and pricing information.

Colorado Railroad Museum: A preview

Location: 17155 West 44th Ave, Golden, CO 80403

Hours: 9:00am to 5:00pm daily, year round except Thanksgiving, Christmas Day & New Years Day

Phone: 303-279-4591, 800-365-6263