Kalevala, Minnesota? Never heard of it until Friday when I was driving the back road from Hibbing, had time to spare, no one to nag me, and a faded “historical marker” sign to follow.
The township in Carlton County only takes a few seconds to miss if you’re in a hurry to get to Moose Lake, especially with the road construction going on on Minnesota Highway 73.
This is Finnish territory, founded by people who escaped the cities and set up lumber camps in the late 1800s.
There’s a little bit of them left. Right here.
It doesn’t take much imagination to see that this was the center of town, which took a few tries to establish because the founders of it originally were turned back by the fact it was all swamps back in the day.
The church, now a cultural center, was built in 1915. I have no idea when the baseball field was added.
Though there’s an annual celebration in what is now called Kalevala Park, it’s been awhile since anyone played ball here. Second base is pretty well embedded.
The old church was wide open. I don’t think we’re in the Twin Cities anymore. The bell still works, by the way.
The old organ is still here. I don’t know if it works, though. I don’t know how to play the organ.
From up here, a pastor could rule the flock of Nummelas, Ruusunens, Bibergs, and Ahos, Ranuas, and Makis.
The Lutheran Church’s 1919 charter, written in Finnish.
The original settlers were still around in 1931, although quite a few settlers died in the Moose Lake fire of 1918.
One imagines their grandchildren headed for the basketball court outside after church.
Or scurried here.
Here’s the historical marker.
Which covered the attempts at economic development on the site.
Stop by on Sunday for the big celebration. Wear boots. The park is soggy after the spring rains. The black flies are vicious. Some things don’t change in Kalevala.