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Spokes & Folks: The Evolution of Bikes and Trails in Washington County 

SpokesFolks Logo

Grand Opening Celebration June 1, 2019, 12:00-4:00 p.m.

The public is invited to the Washington County Parks grand opening of the exhibition Spokes & Folks: The Evolution of Bikes & Trails in noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 1 at the Washington County Historic Courthouse.This exhibition is curated by local Stillwater scholar Megan Arney Johnston.

Celebrate the amazing history of bicycles and the vast network of trails in Washington County with family-friendly activities and fun, including a bike rodeo, vendors, children’s crafts and a bike giveaway!

The Washington County Sheriff’s Department will host a Bike Rodeo from noon to 2 p.m. Bike rodeos are a way to get children active and provide an opportunity for them to practice and develop skills to become better bicyclists. Bring your own bike and helmet to participate. Bicycles will not be provided.

Tour the new the exhibit to see a wide array of bicycles from the 1800s to today. Children may honk bike horns and ring bells to their heart’s content in the Horns, Bells & Bikes children’s section while learning how children’s bicycles have evolved over the years. Stop in the Wheels of Time section to learn what a “boneshaker” is and watch a video on how people got on/off and rode bikes taller than themselves. Stop by the arts and crafts area to create a watercolor bike painting to take home.

Exhibit Details:

Minnesota is considered the second most bike-friendly state in the United States, with residents riding bikes as a pastime, a mode of transport, a physical activity and a sport.

To celebrate the amazing and varied history of the bicycles and to highlight the vast network of trails and paths in Washington County, including the history of rails to trails, the Washington County Historic Courthouse is hosting an exhibit Spokes & Folks: The Evolution of Bikes and Trails in Washington County, which will open June - December 2019.

Sections include Wheels of Time, highlighting historic bikes; Pathway Pioneers, featuring local innovators and leaders in the bike clubs of the turn of the century; Parks, Paths and People, highlighting access to biking trails in the county, as well as celebrating the new St. Croix Crossing bike and pedestrian bridge opening September 2019; and the Bikes & Bloomers section which examines the role that bicycles played in changing social patters for women. 

From basic transportation to recreation, from the high-wheel Penny Farthing to the modern fat-tire bike, the exhibit will highlight how bicycles have impacted the lives of area residents over the past 160 years. 

ONLINE EXHIBIT People & Places: Architecture in Washington County

People & Places: Architecture in Washington County

This online exhibition highlights various architectural styles found in the county from pre-1850 to 1960 in a scrolling, cascade-style format. Sections focus on Lost History (sites and buildings that are no longer); Early Peoples; Mills & Merchants; Learning & Leisure; Law & Order; Victorian & Turn of the Century; Modern. Click the link above and scroll through the different sections from beginning to end or choose your area of interest using the key in the upper right corner. 

Washington County has beautiful natural scenery, lovely Victorian homes; history and connections to a shared past. This exhibit showcases the County’s rich architectural history and the people who lived it.

Special thanks to Washington County's GIS Department, including Courtney Eickhoff and David Brandt, for assisting us with this project.

The Washington County Historic Courthouse Through the Years: 1870-Today

This exhibit showcases Historic Courthouse artifacts from 1870-1975, including antique office equipment, furniture, period clothing, a judge's office display, and much more. 

Rotating tabletop displays throughout the building feature the history of area events, Washington County and the City of Stillwater. 

 click here for tour times

The Great Courthouse Debate

Within its 150-year history, the Historic Courthouse has had its share of debates, and not just in the courtroom. In the 1960's the courthouse faced demolition during a debate on whether to build a new government center or add-on to the existing space. Saved by the community, the courthouse continued to be the focus of debates and discussion on its use, fundraising, restoration and its role as a historical landmark. 

This exhibit examines the historic and contemporary issues and highlights the key questions posed to our community about how to bring the Historic Courthouse into the future, while preserving its past.