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Chapter XI

The Finns of

Northeast Minnesota

Lake and Cook Counties

Where the northern shore of Lake Superior bends gently to the northeast, the tip of Minnesota is surrounded by the lake, by St. Louis County, and by the Canadian border. This area is divided into two counties, Lake and Cook. Geographically, there is nothing to distinguish the two from their western neighbor, St. Louis County. The only difference seems to be that these counties got a later start, but in the 1920s Ilmonen was already able to write, "Finns are clearing vast areas of the Lake County wilderness for settlement, and there is no doubt but that in a decade or two fields and meadows will bear crops where now stretch primeval forests or wildernesses of stumps."' Before becoming involved in this pioneering undertaking, the first stop for the Finns was usually Two Harbors.

Two Harbors

Some 27 miles north of Duluth is Two Harbors, a port on Lake Superior and the county seat for Lake County. The main activity at the harbor was the loading of iron ore, brought here by rail from the mines farther west. The Finns found work as stevedores, in the railroad repair shops, and so forth. That the Finns were more or less permanently settled in Two Harbors was shown by the fact that they had their own organizations there.

A workers' society was established in July 1907. Its central figure, indeed its founder, was Ida Pasanen, who had already been involved in the socialist movement in Finland; she was a

1. Ilmonen, S. Amerikan Suomalaisten Historia III. Hancock, Michigan, 1926. p. 184.


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