Photographs capture moments in time.
Some tell the tales of people through what they are doing, how they are dressed and where that captured moment has taken place.
Other photographs tell the story of places providing context over time. Having photos of the past helps give an area context, and for a local group that has been provided abundantly.
“What we have is an uncut gem,” said Scott Larson, a lifelong resident of Redwood Falls. Larson and others from the community gathered at the Redwood Area Community Center on a recent Thursday morning to look at photos.
The group was there to discover more about that gem, which comes in the form of thousands of photos from the Gary Revier Collection.
Larson said the photos were donated by Revier’s family, and it was Feb. 16, 2017 that the group started taking a look at the photos in that collection and trying to identify the story behind each of them.
Those photos are being sorted into various categories, whether it be street scenes, churches or people.
During that Thursday morning the group was sorting through photos related to Ramsey Park, with numerous boxes placed on tables to separate the photos of the McPhail cabin from the old Girl Scout cabin to those of the Ramsey Falls from what is known as the Little Falls.
“We have been doing this for more than a year, and we still have a long way to go,” said Larson. “After we received the collection from Gary’s family we held on to them for about two years. After a while, we figured we better get going.”
Barb Darr, who has been helping to coordinate the effort, said the group has been working on the first stage of the project, which has been to sort the photos into more general categories.
The intent as time goes along is to more specifically catalog the photos.
“We are hoping to have the Ramsey Park photos done, so that we can have a display at the jamboree,” said Darr.
While there were five working that morning, Darr said others have come to help when they are able. She added others who have an interest in old photographs and those who may be able to help provide some context for the photos they have are welcome to come.
The group meets from 9:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. each Thursday at the RACC in Redwood Falls.
Larson said there are 45 boxes filled with photos and more than 100 albums, and he said others have heard about the project and have brought in theirs as well.
“We just got another box in today,” said Darr that Thursday morning.
Darr, who is not originally from Redwood Falls, said she enjoys the chance to be part of the effort and to listen in on the conversations as people recall events from the past or of the stories they have heard.
There are photos going back to the very earliest days of the region, and some of the photos in the collection are of the same place or event. While there are many repeat photos, some of those same place and event pictures are taken from just a slightly different angle and help to tell the full story.
Darr added there have also been a number of photos from other communities, and those are being separated and will be donated to those communities.
As one might guess, there are also some photos that have not yet been identified. For example, a photo Darr pointed out is identified as being of children taken at an orphanage in Redwood Falls. So far, those who have seen it have no recollection of that orphanage ever being in the community.
Darr pointed out the photo is primarily of girls, with one boy, adding that makes sense, as in those days the boys would have been adopted much more often because they could help out with the work on the farm.
Anyone who may have information about an orphanage that existed in the community is encouraged to come on a Thursday morning to share that information with the group.
“Gary saved everything,” said Larson, adding, with a smile that has been a blessing and a curse.
While the group of local enthusiasts is enjoying the opportunity to talk about the good old days, the fact is it is going to take a lot more work before the task is complete.