Historic Preservation Corps Helps Young Adults

Northland Uncovered: Northern Bedrock Historic Preservation Corps

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Many history lovers are passionate about preserving the past, but one Minnesota group is literally revitalizing it.

It’s beautiful places like Hillside Cemetery in Cloquet that bring comfort to the mourning.

“Across Minnesota, we’re told there are about 1,000 neglected and abandoned cemeteries,” said Pete Bonk, Operations Director for Northern Bedrock Historic Preservation Corps.

One Minnesota group is making sure memories of those lost, remain.

“It could be their only marker that they leave in life,” said Bonk, “for it to be grown over and the grass just grow over, it would be a shame.”

Northern Bedrock Historic Preservation Corps was created in 2011 by Rolf Hagberg to provide opportunities for young people to work on historical preservation projects throughout Minnesota.

“It’s really more than just learning the history, the textbooks, it’s more about getting out, being hands–on, learning how to use the tools, understanding the trades,” explained Bonk.

The hope is to prepare those seeking a career in historic preservation.

Last week, the group worked on keeping the cemetery up to par.

They edged around stones, probed to find them, lifted monuments and cleaned them.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to keep them around, keep their memory around for a little bit longer,” said Bonk.

When cleaning headstones, their big tip is to use water and not household cleaners.

“Those household cleaners can have an acidic effect. Deteriorate the stone, discolor the stone, cause damage that is potentially irreversible”

This group is the only corps in the nation doing strictly historical preservation.

These projects go beyond maintaining cemeteries.

“The one project was really cool. It was an end–grained, log end–grained floor. The logs has rotted out and we went in and replaced those,” said Bonk.

They’ve also worked on CCC buildings and old barns.

“Our hope is we can get in and make a difference,” said Bonk.

This week, the group is in Stillwater, MN working with the Washington County Historical Society.

For more information on the group, head to northernbedrockconservationcorps.org.

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