Revisiting Kalavela


Early in the summer, I was driving the back way from Hibbing when I stumbled across Kalavela, MN., and, in particular, this church, which was built in 1915.

It was a delight to explore and I wrote about it here, imagining this place as the center of town and retracing the steps of Finnish pioneers.

Or maybe not.

We heard this week from Owen Gaard, who calls Soldotna, Alaska home now.

Mr Collins,

I was happy to have stumbled upon your article “exploring Kalevala” as this church is a very important place to me. My wife who is from the area “Automba Township down cty six” and I were married on June 3rd 2006 in that church. My father in-law Sam Huhta who is very much Finnish got together in 2005 or so with some of his friends and they moved that church there from its original location and fixed it all up. I can’t tell you exactly where it was originally although it was not far. That site use to be a school that dated back to the early 1900’s hence the picture of the school on the one sign. The school burned down and they actually used the foundation to help set the church after they moved it.

I’m actually in the process of trying to raise money to keep the meter on as funding is non-existent and 40 dollar a month fee adds up. I work for BP and they do a have a fabric fund of America site that allocates me 300 dollars a year so I hopefully will be able to donate enough that they can keep the meter on. All the community members take turns mowing and doing general upkeep. I think we put that back stop in about three years ago and there is also a small playground. My mother in-law is mad that they put it way off to the side where no sees it.

We always go to this church to play with our children and reminisce when we come to visit from AK. We are going to celebrate 10 years of marriage and are planning on having a big doing there summer 2016 June 3rd. You are more than welcome to come if you want to get the whole story. I would say something in Finn now but that’s her side not mine.

Some photos of our wedding day at that church with the reception in Cromwell.

Yours Truly,

Owen Gaard
Soldotna, AK


  • joetron2030

    Great story, too.