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The first `inland' settlement of the Finns in Lake County was in Finland, about 40 miles northeast of Two Harbors. The first Finns settled here, in what was then a fairly isolated wilderness, in 1903. The story is a repetition of events familiar to reader: the isolation, the slow conquest of the forest, the gradual increase in the size and number of fields, more and more homes, finally a railroad laying down its tracks, building a station near the center of the settlement. It was not until the station was being painted, so the story goes, that the painters realized no one had told them what name to put on its gables, and calling down to Emma Leskinen, who just happened to be walking by, they asked her what the name of the town was, and she called out, "Finland!" and that was the name they painted on. 2

The Geographical Review (July 1935) devoted an article to Finland and revealed that there 179 Finnish farmers there, with a sum total of 329 acres for hay and 165 acres for crops cleared out of the forest. Chief crops were barley, oats and potatoes, although some farmers raised berries, particularly strawberries. Most farmers also kept cows, and their dairy products were shipped to Two Harbors and Duluth. Production of beef and pork was small, but every farm had a span of horses. To help out in their marketing, the farmers had in 1913 set up the Finland Cooperative Company, which had joined the Cooperative Central in 1925. Finns regularly filled local administrative offices, and the postmaster at the time of writing was G. W. Lehto.


One of the loneliest outposts of Finnish settlement in Lake County is that of Isabella, Finland's neighbor - 16 miles removed. The Finns, a group of 5 men, first came here in winter, setting up their shelter of fir and pine boughs, tepee-style, with a fire day and night in the middle of the shelter to cook by and to keep warm. It was from this start that homes in this wilderness were gradually built, a few families settled down, a population of 20 `not counting the children' achieved within a few years' time. Perhaps more would have come if the place had not been so difficult to reach. There were no roads, but the Finns had been told somewhere, so they claimed, that the county would build roads for all pioneer settlements, no matter where. The 20

2. Minnesotan Uutiset, 24 March 1955. Also, Interview with Matti Salo, preserved in MFAHS files.


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