Minnesota college student making jewelry from historic wood

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A Minnesota man is making hundreds of bracelets, and each of them has special story behind it – they are all being made using wood from the state’s first commercial saw mill.     

Logan Ketterling, a 19-year-old college student from Lakeville, says he was looking to start a business that combined his passion for both history and fashion, the result of those two interests became his company Urbain.

"The history has been the most fun thing for me. I've been interested in history for a long time," Ketterling said. "On this board you can see all the discoloration that comes from all those years sitting on the bottom of the river," Kettering said looking at the wood he uses that has been sitting on the bottom of the St. Croix River for decades.

The planks were once logs, cut by the first commercial sawmill in Minnesota, the Marine Mill, which was located in Marine on St. Croix. The mill operated from 1839 to 1895 and sawed lumber from the St. Croix Valley, before floating down the St. Croix where it was then turned into the material that helped build Minnesota, and the rest of the country.  

“The intention of the wood was to be used for homes and businesses and wagons and transportation and expand through the continent Ketterling said.”Our whole goal is to wear this story," Kettering said.

More than 100 years later, Ketterling has found a different purpose for eight logs that were discovered by a local logger at the bottom of the river. He turns the wood into beads which are hand strung into bracelets with silver clasps. 

"Our goal is not to have people put it on and say, ‘oh this is cool.’ The goal is to have people put it on and say, ‘let me tell you about the history of Minnesota or the region I'm from. ‘"

Ketterling only has enough material for 250 bracelets, but eventually he hopes they'll be the crown jewels of Minnesota history.

"It’s a state I love. Born and raised here. Sharing the stories of the place I love is really special."

To help his business, Ketterling started a Kickstarter campaign to raise money and awareness about the bracelets and in just four days he raised $4000 of his $12,500 goal.

After he sells his bracelets he hopes to find more historic Minnesota material for his next project.