Within the past week, we received word that the Charles Lindbergh Historic Site, next door to The Charles A. Weyerhaeuser Memorial Museum, will close as of July 1st, 2009, due to state budget cuts. When I heard the news from Site Manager Charlie Pautler, a stone sunk into my stomach. The various attractions in Little Falls work in concert, with each of us adding a vital service to the community. That the Lindbergh Site, Weyerhaeuser Museum and Lindbergh State Park are geographically joined has afforded us opportunities to mutually assist each other and our visitors. The possibility of having even one site close is disheartening on many levels.
We’re not alone in feeling this way. The Little Falls Convention & Visitors Bureau has started a Blue Letter campaign in order to prevent the closing of the Lindbergh Site. The goal is to send 5,000 Blue Letters (complete text below) to the State Capitol by THIS FRIDAY, April 24. The LFCVB has Blue Letters available for you to send to Representative Al Doty, Senator Paul Koering, and Governor Tim Pawlenty. You can pick up copies of the Blue Letter at the Little Falls Convention & Visitor’s Bureau Office (Rosenmeier Home), Pete & Joy’s Bakery, Bookin’ It, or Ambiance, all in Little Falls, MN. The letters merely have to be signed and sent, but you have to hurry because Friday will be upon us in an instant.
The full text of the Blue Letter is as follows:
Last Thursday, the Minnesota Historical Society announced that it will be forced to close Lindbergh Historic Site if the Governor’s budget recommendations are passed. We realize this is the worst economic downturn in 70 years, and that you have extremely difficult decisions to make. However in rural Minnesota, especially Morrison County, closing a historical facility such as this has extremely detrimental economic and educational impacts. Please do not let this happen.
The Charles A. Lindbergh Historic Site’s economic impact to the region is substantial. The site attracts 10,000 outside visitors to the community every year, where they do a very important thing: spend money. Many of these visitors are from other areas of Minnesota, from throughout the United States, and from foreign countries. They come here because Lindbergh was an iconic worldwide figure. While in Little Falls, Morrison County, and central Minnesota, they spend money at gas stations, local restaurants, grocery stores, hotels, and the other attractions in town. The people who work at Lindbergh live in the local communities and spend money there. If Lindbergh Historic Site disappears, the impact will be seen and felt immediately.
Ever since the site opened to the public in 1931, it has had an educational impact. Since 2006, site staff have been presenting six new programs that meet Minnesota Academic Standards in subjects such as history, social studies, and math. These are well attended by 2,300 school children per year, and that number is growing. The adult and senior programs are equally as vital and compelling, and many are done in partnership with other attractions in the area such as the Pine Grove Zoo, Lindbergh State Park, and Linden Hill Historical Event Center. These programs tackle relevant topics such as the Great Depression, Lindbergh and flight, and children’s experiences in the 1910’s compared to today. It’s more than just about Charles Lindbergh the man, but about our history–yours and mine. The site and museum interpret both local history and international history, by making a connection to that boy who grew up in Little Falls and went on to do great things. It’s about seeing his relevance and applying it while sitting in a replica cockpit of the Spirit of St. Louis. It’s also about interpretation through stories, tours, and interactive programs– a man who was a hero to millions of people and a deeply flawed character to others. By showing these human sides of history at a site where it happened, we not only provide a tangible link to our not-so-distant past, but we also learn lessons about ourselves. Please don’t let that connection to history—our history—come to an end.
Thank you for giving us something so precious these days—your time. We appreciate your efforts during this hard economic time, and your willingness to listen. Please keep Lindbergh Historic Site open for future generations.