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Chapter X

St. Louis County:

Farm Country Fringes

There are in St. Louis County many farming regions in the birth of which the Finns have played an important role. One of the biggest and most unique of these areas is the one around the Mesabi ridge, where settlement extends outward in all directions; the pioneering here has been done almost exclusively by the Finns.

A general picture of the nature of the Northern Minnesota landscape has already been given. Let here be added the statement of a government meteorologist, H. W. Jackson, regarding the climate of St. Louis County and its suitability for agriculture, as given in the Päivälehti, 20 August 1915: "The last day of frost in spring comes on the average on the 3rd day of May, and the first frost in autumn occurs usually on the 4th of October. On the longest day of the year, 21 June, the sun may shine for 15 hours 55 minutes, and there are, on the average, 144 sunny days per year."

For agriculture proper, then, nature does not offer nearly the advantages apparent in the southern and western parts of Minnesota. This is one of the reasons why homestead sites in Northern Minnesota were among the last to be taken up and why St. Louis County was still virgin wilderness up to the end of the 19th century. Since forestry operations, which were at their peak in the 1880s and 1890s, needed manpower, the Finns set out for this region to fill the jobs being offered. In those days, food supplies were brought in over great distances, and it did not occur to anyone that productive farms could be carved


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