The Tongass National Forest has released the schedule for the 2018 Fireside Lectures at Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. Local photographer Mark Kelley will start the annual series with “Alaska’s Treasures: Images from Denali, Glacier Bay and the Pribilof Islands” on Friday, Jan. 12. Two lectures occur every Friday evening, the first at 6:30 p.m., with a repeat at 8 p.m. There is no charge.
“We try to offer topics of interest to residents,” said Visitor Center Director John Neary. “This year we will feature natural beauty, science, adventure, current activities, history and storytelling.”
Other topics for January include “Rise and Fall of the Treadwell Mine,” with historians Paulette Simpson and Wayne Jensen, on Jan. 19; “Plotting the Past over 100 Years” on Jan. 26 with University of Alaska Southeast Professor Brian Buma, who will discuss Southeast Alaska’s “longest running ecological land study,” and much more. The complete schedule is at https://tinyurl.com/y7plxggz .
The popular Fireside Lecture series was started in 1962 by KJ Metcalfe, then visitor center director. At that time, the big copper-sheathed hearth roared with a crackling fire, which inspired the name for the series. And even though the center was less than half its current size, having expanded in 1998, hundreds of people regularly attended the lectures. In recent years, to accommodate continued interest, the center has held two duplicate Fireside Lectures each Friday. Overflow seating has expanded to the observatory from the theater, which fills rapidly with about 100 guests. Twelve free lectures run each Friday through March 30.
The Forest Service invites people to come inside the visitor center free of charge during the winter on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Doors open for the Friday night lectures at 6 p.m. The Discovery Southeast bookstore inside the center will be open during the same hours as the Visitor Center, including Friday nights for lectures. The nonprofit bookstore and the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center are partnering to encourage local artists to present their products for visitors.