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Home on the Range

HOME ON THE RANGE: Spent the day in Chisholm today, and I have much to share! M and I started the day at the Minnesota Discovery Center (formerly known as Ironworld). Temperatures were set to rise to the mid to high 80s, so we tackled the outside buildings first:

Finnish Sauna

Finnish Sauna. Two interior views and one external view of the building’s construction

This sauna was built in 1910 and was donated by the Ray Laitinen Family from Iron, Minnesota. Often, a sauna was the first building erected by an immigrant Finnish family because the sauna was such a significant part of their culture. The family might even spend their first winter in Minnesota residing in the sauna, waiting until the next year to build their house.







The Thompson Homestead

Exterior and interior views of the Thompson cabin.

This cabin was built in Morcom Township, near Bear River, Minnesota in 1904. It was owned by Herman Thompson who moved to Minnesota from Michigan. In the 1910 census, Thompson is listed as a farmer; his land consisted of 60 acres. The cabin was donated to the museum in 1983 by his nephew, Alan.







Sami Goahti and Njalla

This was a unique structure with an interesting history. The interpretive sign showed a colorized photo of a group of Sami outside of a goahti, ca. 1850. The following is a quote from that sign:

The structure you see on your right [the outdoor sod-type house bottom left in collage] is called a GOAHTI. It is a permanent sod or peat-covered summer family home common in Northern Sweden and along the northern seacoast. This camp, constructed in 1996 by Finnish artisan Ilmari Mattus, is the first Sami camp built in North America. The smaller structure to your left [upper right — looks like a large bird house] is a NJALLA. These structures are used for food storage and are lifted off the ground to ensure they are safe from wild animals and the elements.

From another interpretive sign:

The Sami are an indigenous people who have lived in northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia—an area known as Sapmi—for at least 5,000 years. Many Sami emigrated to northeastern Minnesota.

Hill’s Finn Boarding House

Interior and exterior views of the Finn Boarding House.

We saw this on one of the trolley stops. Boarding houses were a welcomed option for single men working the mines. Run by individual families, the men got home-cooked meals and someone to wash their clothes. The boarding houses were so busy that the beds would be occupied twenty-four hours a day. Lazy guys? No! Since the mines operated in three eight-hour shifts, so did the beds in a boarding house. A single bed would have three different men using it in shifts. The gals working at the house would try to change the sheets between sleepers, but sometimes one man would leave and the next would be in bed before any sheet change could be accomplished. This was known as “hot sheeting” as the bed would already be warm for the next occupant. Probably rather gross in the summer but could be quite a relief in the winter!

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