A chance at history


SUNRISE – The Western History Center west of Lingle offers youth a summer program learning about the process of archaeology with a chance to earn money upon completion.

“It’s a summer job for the kids,” George Ziemens, Executive Director of the Western Plains Historic Preservation Association, said. “It’s a six to nine-week program, depending on funding. But if they go all the way through the program we give them an educational stipend. They can use it however they want.”

Young people interested in the program will have a chance to help with the uncovering of the Powars II Project archeological site in the virtually-abandoned town of Sunrise, as well as walk away from it with memories, an opportunity to further develop their work ethic and money if they complete the program. 

The program is supported through private funding. Ziemens said they went through government funding at one time but, due to the required changes to the program, did not continue with it.

“It’s a camping situation, so we feed them, and we’ve got insurance on them while they’re out there, so they’re pretty well taken care of,” Ziemens said. “We use them to do our historic preservation activities at different sites, so it’s also a good educational thing for them in terms of history and archeology. We also really stress things like work ethics, work habits and employer expectations.” 

Ziemens said the experience allows kids involved to get to know one another and maybe earn some lifelong friends along the way.

This summer the group will be focusing on the Iron mine in Sunrise, which was once a town complete with a YMCA. 

After the mining company in charge of the Sunrise Iron Mine went bankrupt the area became a ghost town. Several years ago, the Western History Center was able to start exploring the site to retrieve a product called Red Ochre.

The site’s Red Ochre is believed to date back 13,000 years and was used primarily by early Native Americans around the area.

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