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The Lure of the Pearl Button with Robyn Stoller

August 2 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm CDT

St. Croix Pearl Button Factory workers on pile of shells


The story of freshwater mussels and the pearl button industry in St. Croix and Mississippi river valleys

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, more than a lumber boom was occurring in the St. Croix River valley. A pearl button boom was also underway, employing thousands of ‘clammers’ and button factory workers who labored in the business of making buttons and decorative elements for jewelry and watches. The pearl button industry was short-lived. Advances in plastics technology and mussel over-harvesting led to its early demise but its history is amazing and includes unique stories of locals ‘making it big’ during the pearl button boom.

Robyn Stoller, a long-time member of WCHS, completed research for this topic as a volunteer for the National Park Service. Her project provided park rangers with detailed content to share with visitors and to augment an exhibit at the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway Visitor Center in St. Croix Falls. Her research brought her to the National Pearl Button Museum in Muscatine, IA and several local museums plus many hours at a microfilm reader reading old newspaper stories on clammers and the pearl button business.

Attend in-person at the Washington County Heritage Center OR virtually on Zoom.

Zoom Info

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Meeting ID: 838 1501 7179
Passcode: wchs


August 2
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm CDT
Event Category:


Washington County Heritage Center
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Washington County Heritage Center
1862 South Greeley St
Stillwater, MN 55082 United States
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