Night of mystery explores downtown; more tours to come for SummerFest [UPDATED]Published 9:34am Friday, June 7, 2013 Updated 11:44am Friday, June 7, 2013
Murderers, moonshiners, risque women and prohibitionists stepped out from the shadows of history Thursday night and gave Fergus Falls residents a look at the underbelly of the city’s past.
Thursday’s Downtown Mystery Tour is the first of three Chris Schuelke, executive director of the Otter Tail County Historical Society, will give over the summer.
The tour is one of many offered by the historical society, including the “Myths & Legends: Stories from the State Hospital” that will be part of SummerFest this weekend.
“The reason I started to do this tour was to give an alternative to textbook history,” Schuelke said.
A large group toured the city streets and buildings, listening to stories of murder, scandal and catastrophe. From the River Inn to City Hall, Schuelke and a group of volunteers presented what has fueled much of the rumor and lore around town.
The local flavor has kept tours well attended for three years, according to Schuelke. Local historians take advantage of the opportunity to entertain and educate people on some of the lesser known events that have shaped the city.
“There’s certainly a bridge. We’re public historians and our job is to interpret local history, we’re just using a more interesting method,” he said. “They keep coming to these tours because, really, people are drawn to the macabre.”
On Friday, Friends of the Kirkbride will lead Kirkbride tours starting at noon. On Saturday, the historical society will give the “Myths and Legends” tours at 10 a.m and 1 p.m. Two other downton mystery tours will be held on July 11 and Sept. 12.