Backstage Pass to North Dakota History

This blog takes you behind the scenes of the State Historical Society of North Dakota. Get a glimpse at a day-in-the-life of the staff, volunteers, and partners who make it all possible. Discover what it takes to preserve North Dakota's natural and cultural history.

Passionate Local Communities Embrace Smaller State Historic Sites

My phone rings, and it is a number I have never seen. Grabbing a notebook and pencil, I answer the call. The person on the other end of the line wants to discuss a small, remote state historic site that is missing a sign. Phone calls like this are a common occurrence. While I primarily manage staffed sites, there is nothing more rejuvenating than seeing people’s passion for their local state historic site.

Often when I get the chance to write a blog post for the agency, I tend to focus on our larger staffed sites, but we also manage numerous smaller properties that we regularly take care of, though do not have daily staff on site. Many of these are campsites relating to the punitive campaigns of Brig. Gen. Henry Sibley and Bvt. Brig. Gen. Alfred Sully, places where the army camped for a night or two before moving further west. While the punitive campaigns and their lingering wounds are an important North Dakota story, some of these campsites are not much more than a footnote in history. Some campsites are near local communities that have embraced them and assist with their care.

One of these is Lake Jessie State Historic Site near Binford in Griggs County. This spot marks campsites for several significant expeditions across northern Dakota Territory between 1839 and 1889. Located in the backyard of a family who has farmed the land for generations, the site is often overshadowed by the Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile State Historic Site to the southeast. To access Lake Jessie, one must follow a designated path through the private property of the Helland family, who provides public access. Some people may hesitate to drive into the farmyard and through their hay corral to get there. But if you do, you will likely receive a friendly greeting from owner Lowell Helland.

The Helland family developed a love of history from meeting with Dana Wright, a former State Historical Board member and chairman of the State Parks Committee. In 1953, Wright drove out to Rudy and Thelma Helland’s farmyard. He asked their permission to bring members of the Barnes County Historical Society to their farm as part of a tour on Sibley sites. The Hellands agreed and listened to Dana’s presentation that next Sunday.

Wright’s visit left a mark on the Hellands. Nearby sites came alive for Rudy, Thelma, their children, and Rudy’s brothers. Rudy’s brother Fritz would lead the creation of the Griggs County Historical Society and the Griggs County museum in response to a challenge from a local businessman who said he would donate a Case steam engine if these entities existed.

The Hellands are incredibly proud of the site, and their passion is noteworthy. Rudy and Thelma’s children (Arden, David, Lowell, and Karen) have continued to love and take care of the site. I have had the pleasure of meeting with them on several occasions to discuss how the site will be cared for in the future. It is clear that they have a love for history, the Lake Jessie State Historic Site, and Dana Wright.

View of the isthmus between Lake Jessie and Lake Addie. Though barely visible in this photo, Lake Jessie State Historic Site is located on this thin strip of land with the red arrow pointing to its location.

The Helland family has cared for the little state historic site in their backyard since its establishment in 1955. They even created a museum on the site out of an old rail car.

In the far southwest corner of the state sits Fort Dilts State Historic Site. This site marks the end of Capt. James Fisk’s failed wagon train to the gold fields of Montana. The site is recognized as the only documented place where a wagon train circled the wagons during an attack, but there is more to the story. Some accounts include the possibility that Fisk was using the wagon train as a cover for hauling a large load of whiskey to the gold fields for his private profit. The community of Bowman embraces this location as its historic site. It features within several of the exhibits at the Pioneer Trails Regional Museum in Bowman. For years, one local historian, Dean Pearson, has printed and posted his interpretive panels at the site to tell the story. His work helped inform our panels, which we hope to have up at the site this summer.

Fort Dilts State Historic Site near Rhame not only boasts an exciting story, but the local community often asks about opportunities to promote the site.

Local communities can also become protective of sites. In 1987, the county commissioners in Divide County tried to stop the Rough Riders Motorcycle Club from holding its annual bike rally at Writing Rock State Historic Site north of Grenora. The local community feared the bikers might cause damage to the site. In the end, the bikers were allowed to have their rally, but it did not diminish the community’s perceived sense of ownership. They continue to work with the State Historical Society to improve the site, including during our most recent project, which involved replacing old playground equipment.

The new playground equipment at Writing Rock represented a partnership between Divide County and the State Historical Society of North Dakota. The June 2022 opening was well attended by the local community.

The passion communities have for their local state historic site is always encouraging. I get their passion. I feel the same way about all of the sites I manage. The worst part of my job is sometimes having to tell people that although the project they want is on our list, I can’t move theirs to the top. Our team of staff working primarily on state historic sites is pretty small. We have two historic site managers (including myself), one architecture project manager, a construction supervisor and his crew of four, 12 site supervisors and their teams, and seasonal staff. That is not a lot for nearly 60 sites. Luckily, we get a lot of help from other individuals around the agency. However, some of our biggest helpers are community volunteers and friends groups. If you are interested in assisting with your local state historic site, feel free to contact the State Historical Society, and we will let you know how you can help.

State Historic Sites Keep Me On My Toes As The Summer Season Begins

Another summer season is upon us! It is the most exciting time of the year. Every day when I get to work fresh opportunities present themselves. This is part of what I like about being a historic sites manager. It is never the same. Sure, there are routine tasks I do regularly, but most of the time I walk into work with a different agenda for the day than the one I end up with. New projects, mysteries, and challenges arise to keep me on my toes. Most days, I do not get to my planned agenda before my phone rings, and we are off to tackle some new adventure.

In fall 2020, my phone rang. It was a call about upgrading the playground equipment at Writing Rock State Historic Site near Grenora. The decades-old playground equipment at the site was from the time when the State Historical Society oversaw both historic sites and state parks. The outdated equipment was no longer safe. For the next several months, I worked with officials from Divide County to secure funding and design a new playground set for the site. As part of the project, I applied for several grants, including ones from the John & Elaine Andrist Fund and the Outdoor Heritage Fund. This past winter, the equipment was installed. On June 11 we held a grand opening event, where the community could try out the equipment, and the staff of the Missouri-Yellowstone Confluence Interpretive Center hosted hands-on games.

The old playground equipment at Writing Rock State Historic Site near Grenora.

New playground equipment at Writing Rock State Historic Site.

One of the biggest improvements we are working on this year is installing an elevator at the 1883 Stutsman County Courthouse State Historic Site. It is not every day you can make a historic structure Americans with Disabilities Act compliant. Installing the elevator will allow visitors who are unable to climb the stairs to the courtroom to still attend programs there or even court, should the Southeast Judicial District need to use the space again for jury trials as was the case during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a massive project that will significantly improve the use of this beautiful building. Plus, it also has revealed some fun little tidbits. We never expected to find beadboard under the paneling of the judge’s platform. We have not seen beadboard anywhere in the courthouse before. Could it be that there was more beadboard in the courthouse, and it was covered when all the tin went up to hide the damage resulting from the 1916 courthouse fire?

Workers from RDA Construction discovered beadboard paneling under the judge’s platform at the Stutsman County Courthouse State Historic Site.

The floor in the former superintendent's office was removed to make room for the new elevator at the courthouse.

A construction worker stands in the new doorway, which will serve as a second entrance and access point to the elevator.

These are just a couple of the new things we have been working on at state historic sites. We are also in the process of acquiring a helicopter for the Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile State Historic Site near Cooperstown. The 1883 Stutsman County Courthouse State Historic Site has several programs planned for the summer, including talks with law enforcement. Fort Totten State Historic Site will feature concerts this month and is working on more events to come. The Chateau de Morès State Historic Site is hosting a prototype exhibit for the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library for a limited time. All in all, it’s set to be an excellent summer to check out our wonderful state historic sites.

The Chateau de Morès State Historic Site is hosting a prototype exhibit for the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library.

Offseason Provides Opportunity for State Historic Site Improvements

At this time of year, I often get asked about what I do since the majority of the state historic sites I oversee are closed. One of the best parts of working with sites is that no two days are ever the same. I know that sounds a bit cliché, but there is a lot of truth in the statement. During the offseason, I find myself working on various projects for different sites. Each project offers new and unique challenges and allows me to work with our excellent site staff.

One of the projects nearing completion is an upgrade to the playground equipment at Writing Rock State Historic Site, which we undertook in partnership with the Divide County Job Development Authority. You might wonder why we have a playground at a historic site. The playground equipment was installed at the site when it was initially created as a state park in 1936. The State Historical Society of North Dakota operated both state parks and historic sites until the mid-1960s when parks were moved to a separate agency.

The original equipment at Writing Rock was outdated and no longer safe to use. Playground equipment has a lifespan of 20 years. Grondahl Construction installed the new equipment in November. All I have left to do on the project is finish up some grant reporting and install a sign recognizing the contributions of all involved. I have never worked on a project like this before, and it allowed for some great learning opportunities. Plus, I can now amaze my friends with my knowledge of the cost of playground equipment.

Playground equipment with green slides and brown poles and roofs

New playground equipment at Writing Rock State Historic Site.

Another project on my plate this offseason is writing interpretive panels for Fort Dilts State Historic Site. Fort Dilts has long been on our list of sites that need interpretive panels. After its inclusion in the North Dakota Passport, we felt it was time to move it to the top of the list. For the past month, I have been researching the history surrounding the site and have begun to write the panels.

I metal sign reading Fort Dilts 1864 stands outsinde among frosted ground with windmills in the background. There are also 5 gravestones on the right side of the image in the middleground.

Fort Dilts State Historic Site

One project that has been on my list for a long time is creating a video tour of the upstairs of the Chateau de Morès in Medora. Currently, guests who cannot climb the interior staircase have no way of experiencing the Chateau’s upstairs. This past fall, Assistant Site Supervisor Ed Sahlstrom and I recorded a tour of the upstairs. I am currently editing the video, and hopefully, it will be available at the site this summer for guests.

An older man with wihte hair and dark glasses wearing a black and white plaid shirt stands indoor in a house with two open doorways behind him.

Screen capture of a video of Assistant Site Supervisor Ed Sahlstrom describing the upstairs nursery at the Chateau de Morès State Historic Site.

If you are a regular blog reader, you may have seen my post about the Ask-an-Expert program. We continue to work on that program, but we are also expanding our virtual offerings in other ways. We are working with several of our sites to develop virtual tours. We are doing test tours and looking at lighting and sound quality. We are also trying to work with our site staff to make the tour fit within a 45-minute time limit. I am excited for our site staff to share these tours with schools, civics groups, and other museums.

An older gentleman with glasses, long white gray hair and beard, black hat, and denim shirt is shown on the left side of the screenshot while a younger man in khaki pants, green button up shirt, with red hair a beard stands showing the underground capsule at a missile site..

Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile State Historic Site Supervisor Rob Branting shows off one of the underground capsules as part of a trial run of a virtual tour to 1883 Stutsman County Courthouse State Historic Site Supervisor Steve Reidburn and Historic Sites Manager Chris Dorfschmidt.

In addition to offseason projects, I often help answer questions for the general public about sites. Sometimes these questions require research. For example, a gentleman from the Twin Cities recently contacted me with questions about sites related to the 1863 punitive campaign led by Brig. Gen. Henry H. Sibley against the Dakota for the 1862 uprising. He wanted to know the exact location of several of the campsites. Thanks to some help from the friendly folks up in the State Archives, I was able to answer his questions.

An empty room with peach colored walls, a bluish gray ceiling, wood floors, one light on the ceiling, two windows with white shades pulled down, and a door on the adjacent wall that is the same color of the walls

The north wing of the hospital building at Fort Totten State Historic Site will eventually house a hands-on exhibition geared toward children.

The projects listed above are a small taste of all of the ones I am currently working on this winter. I could go on about other projects like the children’s exhibit for the north wing of the hospital building at Fort Totten State Historic Site, getting replacement signs made for various historic sites, or making some slight updates to site cards. Then there are all of the other responsibilities that come with being a manager—budgeting, staff development, and hiring. As much as others might think that winter is my quiet time, it can be one of the busiest times of the year. But that said, I enjoy working on all of these projects, making every day different and enjoyable.

The Unglamorous Side of Historic Site Management

One day in the fall of 2018 when I was the site supervisor of Chateau de Morès State Historic Site, my staff and I hosted a bus tour. It was the off-season, and we were short-staffed. Two of my team were at the Chateau, which left the store manager and myself to cover the Interpretive Center. After we greeted the group and showed them the orientation video, they were free to explore the galleries or visit the gift shop. I was in the primary gallery interacting with several of the participants when one walked up to me and said in a sly voice, "You know, when you get older, your aim gets worse."

At first, I wondered what he was talking about, but then he quickly added, "You may need to have somebody clean up your bathroom." All other staff were occupied with their assigned tasks, which left me to wield a mop and clean the sullied restroom stall. While being a site supervisor can be a dream job for some—I know it was for me when I started–it does come with an unglamorous side.

A man stands next to a garden with many trees in the background

Site Supervisor Kyle Nelson pulls weeds as he checks on the victory garden at Fort Totten State Historic Site.

State historic site supervisors have a challenging job. Site supervisors are jacks-of-all-trades, and their positions can be broken down into many roles. For their sites they are the chief administrator, the human resources department, head of maintenance, event coordinator, program creator, lead interpreter, store manager, social media coordinator, marketing department, and even custodian. Some sites have large staff who help with these roles, but at other sites you might see the site supervisor get off the mower to collect admission, sell a souvenir, and then lead a tour.

On top of that, people expect you to be an expert and to speak with authority, especially on all topics of history and preservation. During my initial three months as the Chateau’s site supervisor, I was asked my first question about the historic preservation of a structure on the National Register of Historic Places (not my strongest area of expertise when I started). On the other hand, sometimes people also assume that your historical knowledge includes every aspect and minute detail of your site. While being considered a content expert in the ranching and meatpacking industries during the “Great Dakota Boom” and in the sophisticated home management practices of the aristocracy during the Gilded Age is an ego boost, there are plenty of humbling moments.

If there is a problem, for instance, site supervisors are the ones everybody looks to for answers and guidance. Sure, there are big, noteworthy things that site supervisors and staff do where they receive recognition. They create new programs that benefit tourists and local communities and deal with disasters like wildfires, runaway carriages, and roofs that have blown off historic buildings.

A white building with red trim around the windows and roof is shown with part of the roof blown off

A windstorm in June blew the roof off the girl's dormitory at Fort Totten State Historic Site. Assistant Site Supervisor Lisa Rainbow led the cleanup efforts as Site Supervisor Kyle Nelson was away at the time.

But rarely are people aware of the less-than-glamorous, behind-the-scenes work that goes into the job, like the site supervisor at Fort Abercrombie State Historic Site cleaning bird feces off interpretive panels in the morning or the site supervisor at Fort Totten shoveling snow out of a building with a broken window or crawling under a historic building in the mud to diagnose a wiring problem. When a security alarm goes off at a state historic site at three in the morning, the site supervisor must get up and go check it out, even if it means driving 30 minutes there and 30 minutes back. I know of one site supervisor who even chose to spend his anniversary at a three-hour city council meeting in order to represent the agency on an issue. Site supervisors step up and tackle challenges as they arise because it is what needs to be done.

I’ll never forget the time I was visiting the Oscar-Zero facility at the Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile State Historic Site last summer, and the site was hosting a large family group. The staff did a great job. However, while preparing to leave the facility for their next location, the visitors exposed a problem with the plumbing, which resulted in both the men and women's toilets clogging simultaneously. Site Supervisor Rob Branting tried his best to expel the clogs and restore proper flow. He called every plumber in the phone book looking for relief but finding a plumber on a Friday afternoon in a rural community can be a challenge. Rob went so far as to walk out into the nearly dried sewage lagoon to see if water was flowing out from the facility. Now that is truly going above and beyond.

A man stands in the middle of many weeds

Site Supervisor Rob Branting walks to the center of a sewage lagoon at the Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile State Historic Site to check on the water flow.

When I talk about my job, I often talk about how I get to work with fantastic colleagues. The agency and the people of North Dakota are lucky to have hardworking, knowledgeable, and passionate staff supervising our state historic sites. Our historic sites are in good hands, and I am proud of all our site staff's work, whether I hear about it or not. But for the record, I do prefer to hear about it.

Ice Cream, Accordion Music, and Kite Flying: North Dakota State Historic Sites Offer Summer Visitors a Season of Delights

A new season is upon us, and we are thrilled by the prospect of delighting visitors at our state historic sites. There is much curiosity about what kind of season we will have this year. Last year was tough on sites. Our site supervisors worked hard to open on short notice, create procedures to keep visitors safe, and rearrange schedules to accommodate staff in quarantine. This year we are ready for guests and providing new events and experiences.

As part of their effort to keep visitors safe in 2020, sites canceled many summer events they would typically hold. This year, we have established new guidelines for events at sites, and I am super excited about the great events we will be hosting. Some are returning favorites; others are brand new. There are too many to list each one, but here are a few highlights of what’s happening at sites this summer:

June 27 Great Western Trail Monument Dedication. Missouri-Yellowstone Confluence Interpretive Center, near Williston
July 3-4 Kite Flying Weekend, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Fort Abercrombie State Historic Site, near Fargo
June 15 and July 13 Entertainer Kittyko holds a child-oriented performance, 11 a.m.-12 p.m. Former Governors’ Mansion State Historic Site, Bismarck
July 24 Grant Invie Concert. 1883 Stutsman County Courthouse State Historic Site, Jamestown
August 8 Annual Ice Cream Social returns. Former Governors’ Mansion State Historic Site, Bismarck
August 14 Painting class with Linda Roech. Welk Homestead State Historic Site, near Strasburg
August 17 Entertainer Kittyko holds a child-oriented performance, 11 a.m.-12 p.m. Camp Hancock State Historic Site, Bismarck

many people are gathered outside for an event. Some are eating ice cream cones. A blue canopy is set up between a green building and a yellow house.

The annual ice cream social at the Former Governors’ Mansion State Historic Site returns this summer after a pandemic-related hiatus.

Beyond events, some sites will also offer new experiences for visitors this year. Fresh off of their success opening Fashion & Function: North Dakota Style, the exhibit team has been hard at work on a new Sitting Bull exhibit for the Missouri-Yellowstone Confluence Interpretive Center (MYCIC). The exhibition focuses on the Hunkpapa Lakota leader’s life and cultural impact and will open in June. Last year we installed a new civics exhibit at the 1883 Stutsman County Courthouse State Historic Site. With the looming threat of COVID-19, many of the hands-on elements in that exhibit had to be put on hold. This year, however, thanks to some new procedures and the improving pandemic situation, we are now able to bring these elements to the public.

A gold colored embossing stamp sits nest to a roll of gold starburst edged stickers, a bookmark displaying an embossed sticker with an illustration of a brick building, and a sign that reads Try it! with some other unreadable text. All of these items sit atop a wooden desk or table.

Visitors to the new civics exhibit at the 1883 Stutsman County Courthouse State Historic Site will finally be able to try their hand at the embossing stamp shown above. This stamp was one of several interactive elements put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, at the Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile State Historic Site, Rob Branting, site supervisor, will conduct a new interpretive tour of November-33. (November-33 is a decommissioned Launch Facility, which housed a Minuteman III missile that could be fired from a Launch Control Facility such as Oscar-Zero.) Rob’s tours will take place on alternating Fridays and Saturdays in the summer from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Contact the site for details.

At the time of this writing, some site projects and programs are still works in progress. At Camp Hancock State Historic Site, our Site Supervisor Johnathan Campbell is working to recreate how U.S. Weather Bureau offices once located at the site would have looked in the 1930s. Similar to the civics exhibit at the 1883 Stutsman County Courthouse, the recreated Weather Bureau offices will incorporate hands-on elements. The Ronald Reagan missile site is planning a Perseid Meteor Shower Party for the evening of August 12. The 1883 Stutsman County Courthouse will host talks by both the veterans officer for Stutsman County and the president of the county commission. The Welk Homestead State Historic Site is organizing its annual Accordion Jam Festival, slated for July 17. At the Chateau de Morès State Historic Site, staff are collaborating with the Friends of the Chateau de Morès to convene a series of outdoor painting classes with Joseph Garcia, site supervisor at MYCIC and Fort Buford State Historic Site.

If these or other events mentioned in this blog sound of interest, keep an eye on the site’s Facebook page for further details, or check out the events page on the State Historical Society of North Dakota’s website.

Two couples dance outdoors in front of a tent with a tuba player and piano player.

Couples polka during the 2019 Accordion Jam Festival at the Welk Homestead State Historic Site.

Hunting “Easter Eggs”: Small Details in Historical Photos Add to Interpretation

It is not uncommon for film directors and video game designers to put Easter eggs into their movies and games. No, I am not talking about literal Easter eggs, but rather hidden references to other films or aspects of pop culture—for instance, the alien from “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” appeared in “Star Wars: Episode I-The Phantom Menace.” Some people actively hunt these hidden treasures. You can often find videos on YouTube with a clickbait image that claims to reveal all the Easter eggs in a given movie. These videos usually have a screenshot from the film with a red circle around some aspect of the background and a title that reads “25 things you missed.” Historical photos can also have Easter eggs, although these are not intentional. These details can change how we view the image and give us a better context for telling these stories. Here are some I found while working on interpretive panels for Chimney Park at the Chateau de Morès State Historic Site in Medora.

A woman sitting sideways on a horse. the woman is wearing a dress with a belt that possibly has bullets in it.

Here I have inserted my own clickbait thumbnail like you might find on YouTube. There really is more to this photo than meets the eye. For instance, the Marquis de Morès was photoshopped out of the image. Look closely and you can still see the toe of his boot and shadow. The horse is even missing an ear. Since the photo was altered, the image was removed from our digital collections.

One of the interpretive themes at the Chateau is the Marquis de Morès’ dream of creating a cattle empire. Staff at the historic site talk about his desire to change the system for transporting beef from shipping live cattle to slaughterhouses in Chicago to shipping dressed beeves (the flesh of a cow or bull) to East Coast markets using refrigeration. While his was not the first enterprise to use refrigerated rail cars to transport dressed beeves, the scale of the Marquis’ plans were unprecedented.

A white building sits behind train tracks with a few train cars on it

A closer look at this image reveals the Marquis’ big dreams for his shipping operation. SHSND SA 00042-00188

The 1883 photo above shows the construction of the Marquis’ abattoir (slaughterhouse). We can see the main structure, with its icehouse under construction. A spur line runs between the two structures, bearing four of the Marquis’ new refrigerated rail cars. It is easy to focus on the construction and miss what, in my opinion, is the most crucial part of the photo. I know I did.

If you zoom in on a high-resolution scan of the photo, as I have below, you can read the words on the side of the rail cars. They are still a bit difficult to make out, but the places they plan to deliver to are listed, from to Duluth, Minnesota, to the West Coast, as well as the products they plan to deliver, including beef, beer, and vegetables. (You can view the full list of items and places advertised on these rail cars at the detail page here.)

Two train cars are shown that read Northern Pacific Railroad Refrigerator Line

Fresh meat, butter, fish, and beer were among the perishable products the Marquis planned to ship on his refrigerated rail cars. SHSND SA 00042-00188

Why is this important?  It shows just how big the Marquis dreamed. He had not even finished building all the infrastructure his company needed and already was listing places he would deliver to and goods he would carry. It would be like listing all the stores that will carry your new product before finishing the factory. We know now that the Marquis would not actually accomplish most of this vision, but it does show his ambition, confidence, and the sheer size of his dream. It also shapes how we at the State Historical Society share that story with visitors.

During my research, I’ve also discovered that the public at the time was fascinated with the meatpacking industry. A dark, macabre sense of humor was often displayed by the workers and companies involved in these processes. Armour & Co. produced a postcard featuring a hog wheel (used to lift live hogs to the conveyor belt system) with the slogan: “Round goes the wheel to the music of the squeal.” The Marquis’ abattoir was not immune to this dark humor, and the Easter egg proves that point. Take a close look at this photo below. What do you see?

Men stand and sit on a platform next to a train car that reads Northern Pacific Refrigerator. Two men stand in front of the train car.

Another interesting tidbit in this image is the pistol hanging from the belt of one of the men. I will need to further investigate. SHSND SA 00042-00150

Most people will say they see a group of workers holding tools posed on the abattoir’s loading dock. But look closer, and you can spot one man resting his foot on the decapitated head of a butchered cow as if he was a big game hunter.

Finally, I want to share one of my favorite Chateau Easter eggs. The worst position for a servant at the Chateau was to be the chambermaid. The Marquis and Marquise had exclusive use of the one indoor bathroom at the Chateau. Servants and guests used chamber pots, and the chambermaid was responsible for cleaning these every day. It would be inefficient for her to carry each pot downstairs to dispose of the contents. Instead, the chambermaid would empty the contents into a bucket. The chambermaid would not want to keep a bucket of foul-smelling waste sitting where it could affect the guest quarters’ air quality while she finished cleaning the 10 upstairs bedrooms. So, she would place the bucket outside a window on the roof until she needed it for the next pot. Knowing that, take a look at this iconic photo below of the Marquis, the Marquise, and their hunting party ready to go out on a hunt.

Men and horses stand in front of an old house

Getting ready for a big hunt at the Chateau de Morès, circa mid-1880s. SHSND SA 00042-00191

Can you spot it?

I recommend taking some time to explore the images on Photobook. Who knows what Easter eggs you might find? Happy hunting.