Spring Valley Book Project

The "Heritage Circle" project brought together senior residents and 6th grade students in Spring Valley to learn about their community’s history and create a photo book to document what they learned.

The Heritage Circle Project
  • Intro
  • Photos
  • Product
  • Learn More/How We Did It
  • Additional Resources

See what people had to say about this project!

"History is more interesting after being in the Heritage Circle program."

"I hope I can teach kids and adults about the history that was shared with me."

"It was cool to learn about how the railroads went through almost every part of southeastern Minnesota."

"I think it is important to know your local history."

"I didn't know any of this history until I took part in this program."

"Perhaps the most enjoyable part was working with the students, noting their interesting and enthusiasm. Great group of students!"

Click on image to browse all photos.


Photo by Kathleen Taylor. Photo by Kathleen Taylor. Photo by Kathleen Taylor. Photo by Kathleen Taylor. Photo by Kathleen Taylor. Photo by Kathleen Taylor.

These are scans from some of the pages of the finished book, "Heritage Circle: Connecting Generations Through History." Interested in seeing more of this book or acquiring your own copy? Contact aleah.vinick@mnhs.org.

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For the first session, held after school at Spring Valley library, senior participants presented short (3-5 minute) presentations about a community history topic, such as one room school houses, or railroad lines in the community. Many also brought related artifacts (e.g. a school bell or a railroad tie). Students interviewed the participants and digitally recorded the presentations for further investigation at school.

A few weeks later, all of the participants enjoyed a field trip through Spring Valley and the surrounding community, where they saw and toured important sites and buildings related to the Heritage Circle presentations. They also benefitted from more conversation about their community’s unique history. As student Reann commented, “I didn’t know any of this history until I took part in this program.”

Youth Participants: Ben, Breanna, Brianna, Danielle, Erin, Kaelyn, Kiara, Morgan, Quinn, Rachel, Reann, Riley, Shayleigh

Adult Participants: Sam Blakeslee, Mary Jo Dathe, Bernis Finke, Dave Foster, Rita Hartert, Sharon Jahn, Lynn Mensink

For more information: Contact Project Manager Aleah Vinick at aleah.vinick@mnhs.org or 651-259-3417.

Historic Forestville
Learn more about nearby Historic Forestville, a Minnesota Historical Society site.

Background on the community of Spring Valley

Spring Valley, 1909Spring Valley Township, settled in 1852, organized May 11, 1858, was named for its very large springs, one being about a mile east of the village and two nearly as large within the town site limits. The city of Spring Valley was founded in 1855, incorporated on February 29, 1872, and reincorporated on April 28, 1919, when it separated from the township; its post office began in 1855.

Stagecoach Routes

Area Railroad Lines

Bernard Pietenpol, Cherry Grove Aviator
(MHS-Moving Pictures Film Festival entry, 2007) Finding Flight” by Jesse Roesler and Jen Larson. Available to view in the Minnesota Historical Society Library.
During the Great Depression, Bernard H. Pietenpol, with no more than an eighth-grade education, designed a “common man’s airplane” built with hardware store parts.  Today his son and grandson carry on his legacy, and his simple design enjoys a popular following among people of all ages who share his dream of flight.

One Room School Houses

Project Details

Date: April 2010
Partner(s): Alyse Broadwater; Paul Eckhart, Kingsland Public Schools; Diane Sikkink, Spring Valley Public Library; Kathleen Taylor; Sandy Scheevel and John Grabko, Historic Forestville; Aleah Vinick, Minnesota Historical Society, Project Manager
Location: Spring Valley, MN

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