History Series

The Sylvan Township "History Series" is sponsored by Sylvan Township and Pillager School Community Education. This lecture series highlighted the historical moments of Sylvan, Rosing, Fairview, and May Townships as well as the Cities of Pillager and East Gull Lake, otherwise known as "The Pillager Gap". These are the moments that give the residents of the "Gap" a sense of pride in our historical culture and the breathtaking environment in which we live.

The History Series is back & has begun it is being presented in the CTC Center at Pillager High School.

Please check out the YouTube Channel for Sylvan Township, MN

2022 History Series

June 28th, 2022

Camp Ripley Sentinel Landscape Project - Phase 1 Video;  Phase 2 Video; Final Video; and the Presentation

More interviews from the project can be found here.

July 28th, 2022

Rural Schools - presented by Dave Johnson - Presentation Video

September 27th, 2022

Local Cemeteries - presented by Mike North - Presentation Video

October 25th, 2022

Oldest Local Resorts - Presentation Video

Please see the presentations and video links for each 2019 lecture below.


The Glaciers and the Impact

presented by Bryan Hargrave on May 28, 2019

The Pillager Gap

Geology Video

This lecture was about the glacial activity and an explanation of what we have as a result. This lecture included the explanation of what may have existed and the history of the glaciers. As we look around why do we see the geography and the geology that seems unique to central Minnesota and "The Pillager Gap".


Early Non-Native Settlers

presented by Mike North on July 30, 2019

First Non-Native Settlers

This lecture discussed the early white settlements such as the towns of Crow Wing, Fort Gaines (later known as Fort Ripley), and the Agency Site on the Crow Wing River. The time frame for this lecture was the 1840's.

Video available by request.  [email protected]


The 1862 Uprising

presented by Don Wedll on September 24, 2019


Uprising Video

This lecture provided a detailed account of the 1862 uprising and insight into the complex relationships and alliances leading up to the uprising and the resulting impact on the Indian Nations and their relocation to the reservations. Part of the lecture included the rise of Hole In The Day The Younger who rose to an unprecedented position of leadership and his untimely death by assassination along the Gull River.


The First Inhabitants

presented by Mike North on June 25, 2019

First Inhabitants

This lecture discussed early native populations, why they were here and what, they were doing. The lecture starts with the early native time and goes through the fur trade period and first the European contacts.

Video available by request.  [email protected] 

RR Ox Cart

Red River Ox Cart Trails

presented by Ron Miles on August 27, 2019

Ox Cart Trails

This lecture highlighted the Red River Ox Cart Trails and in particular the last trail, the Woods Trail, which provided commerce and communication from Pembina on the north to St. Paul and St. Peter on the south. This trail took advantage of the glacial corridor "The Pillager Gap" and our back yards.

Video available by request.  [email protected]


The Gull River Lumber Company

presented by Jeremy Jackson on October 29, 2019

Gull River Lumber

Lumber Video

This lecture covers one of the most up-to-date mills in Minnesota, in its time. The Gull River Lumber Company had a huge impact on the population growth of Sylvan, Pillager, and the surrounding area as it stripped a large area of the virgin timber. Located on the Gull River on the south side of the current Highway 210 in an area now under water, flooded by the Sylvan Dam. In its short life in the 1880s and 90s this mill had an impact with much of the lumber heading west to build the treeless Red River Valley.