The Two RV Gypsies: Full-Time RVers
explored Scandinavian Heritage Park
1020 S. Broward
Minot, ND 58701
phone: 701.852.9161 for hours
August 21, 2015

Scandinavian Heritage Park is a park located in the Upper Brooklyn neighborhood of Minot, North Dakota. Scandinavian Heritage Park features remembrances and replicas from each of the Scandinavian countries: Sweden, Norway and Denmark, as well as Finland and Iceland.

The park was established during 1988 to celebrate and preserve Scandinavian heritage. The first building was dedicated October 9, 1990.

It is believed to be the only park in the world representing all five Nordic countries.

Scandinavian Heritage Center sign: Plaza Scandinavia and Observatory

Below: Lee Duquette had fun spinning the 48-inch diameter floating, spinning, marble globe fountain in the observatory section, as he explored its contents.

floating, spinning, marble globe floating, spinning, marble globe

Below - Plaza Scandinavia: The map of the five Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, was completed in summer 2011. This beautiful work of art is 75-feet in diameter and executed in different colored granite tiles with a background of Norwegian Blue Pearl Granite. The shimmering blue-black granite, (representing the ocean of Scandinavia), creates a dramatic vision and a most unique structure for the park.

The map plaza with its position at the entrance to the park is a reception and disembarkation area for visitors. This actual map representation of the Scandinavian countries also serves as an educational tool for visitors to the park. Integrated into the map plaza is a bronze compass and eight strategically positioned observation/rest benches of granite.

Granite was selected for this project for its long-term durability and is second only to diamonds in its hardness.

The bronze compass inset into the granite also serves as the name place for this monumental map of Scandinavia. The names of the countries and their capital cities are also on bronze plaques which are inset on the map at the capitals' locations.

Along with the other structures in the park, it serves to commemorate and honor the Scandinavian immigrants, who left their homes across the ocean and endured many hardships to establish their new homes in North America. Their contributions to life in the New World have been many.

map of the five Nordic countries map of Denmark

Below: E.D. Schmit's Rock of Ages / 1886-1986 Minot Ward County Centennial Time Capsule

sign: E.D. Schmit's Rock of Ages E.D. Schmit's Rock of Ages
Plaza Scandinavia plaque

Below: Another time capsule

time capsule time capsule

Below: The Gol Stave Church Museum is a full-size replica of the Gol Stave Church, which was moved from Gol, Hallingdal to the Folk Museum in Bygdoy Park in Oslo, Norway about 100 years ago. It now has a place of honor in the Heritage Park.

This replica building is 60-feet by 45-feet at the base and about 60-feet-high. It is dedicated to the pioneer immigrants who uprooted themselves from Scandinavia to make new homes in North America.

Noted wood carvers Philip Odden and Elsa Bigton of Barronet, Wisconsin have completed the intricately-carved front and side portals and doors.

Some 700-800-year-old stave churches in Norway still stand.

The Gol Stave Church Museum The Gol Stave Church Museum

Inside the church, the corner posts are essential. They are often accentuated, and are heavier and more richly decorated than the other structural elements. They represent the four gospels whose teachings are the supporting foundation of all Christianity." The beams upon which the columns rest "signify God's apostles, the foundation of all Christianity." The floor boards represent "the humble men who bow in honour; the more they are exposed to the trampling feet of the congregation, the more support they provide."

The roof surface which protects the church from snow and inclement weather "represents the men...whose prayers protect Christianity from temptation."

Above excerpts above from Norway's Stave Churches by Eva Valebrokk and Thomas Thiis-Evensen

Lee Duquette at The Gol Stave Church Museum

Below: Danish Windmill: In 1928, the windmill was built by Carl Olson in Powers Lake and was used to supply water and to grind wheat for the family. It was donated to Roosevelt Park in the mid-1960s by Olson's family. A favorite spot for visitors and photographers, the forces of man and nature took their toll on the windmill and it was taken down for repairs. A volunteer effort, led by Scandinavian Heritage board member Lawrence Thompson, provided a new, more prominent rock and concrete base for the Windmill's present location. It was dedicated, along with the Flag Display (shown at the bottom of this page), on October 12, 1992.

Danish Windmill Danish Windmill

Below: The waterfall was dedicated on June 29, 2000, but was under repair on the date the two RV Gypsies were at the Scandinavian Heritage Center.

Water plays a large part in the lives of Scandinavians and the cascading waterfall and rippling stream that normally flows down to the serene ponds are pleasant reminders. (Previously about 600 gallons per minute of water flowed over the waterfall in the summer.)

waterfall plaque waterful under construction

Below: The statue of Icelandic explorer, Leif Erikson, was unveiled in the Scandinavian Heritage Park on October 12, 1993. The fine detail of this bronze statue is a tribute to the skill of the sculptor, Arlen Evenson of Boundary Lake, north of Bottineau, N.D. According to the Vinlanda Saga of Iceland, "Leif the Lucky" was the first man of European stock to step ashore in America in about the year 1000.

The Icelandic Heritage Society sponsored this magnificent addition to the park.

Leif Erikson is a fitting symbol for all North Americans whose heritage lies in the Nordic countries beyond our shores. According to Saga tradition, his father, Erik the Red, was Norwegian. Leif was born in Eiriksstadir, Iceland, lived and farmed at Brattahlid, Greenland, and served one winter under the Norwegian king in Trondheim. Leif, Leiv, or Leifur? Erikson or Eirikssen? Different spellings reflect his popularity with all the Scandinavian groups.

Icelandic explorer, Leif Eriksson

Below: Hans Christian Andersen nearly comes to life in the park's newest statue, which was sponsored by the Danish Society. Shari Hamilton of Westhope was the sculptor of this magnificent work of art. It was dedicated on October 5, 2004 during and unveiling ceremony attended by representatives of the five Scandinavian countries.

The sculpture was funded by Lynn and Marilyn Odlund of Mitchell, SD in honor of Mr. Odlund's mother, Alice Nelson-Odlund, an elementary teacher who encouraged her students to read, using the Andersen fairy tales to spark their interest.

Hans Christian Andersen was most famous for his fairy tales even though he wrote novels, poems, plays and travel articles. One of the things his works taught was that beauty comes from within.

sign: Hans Christian Andersen
statue: Hans Christian Andersen

Below: A large 30-foot tall Dala (dawla) horse, which is the most recognized Swedish symbol in the world, was dedicated by the Swedish Heritage Association on October 10, 2000.

These brightly colored horses have been carved in various sizes by Swedish craftsmen and take their name from the province of Dalarna where is has been a popular form of domestic art since the 1840s. Historical accounts vary in giving credit to woodsmen and to soldiers for originating the craft. It is certain that long autumn and winter evenings with little to do, coupled with the availability of wood scraps from the furniture-making trade of the area, fostered the development of the Dala Horse.
The first Dala Horses were plain wood, created as toys for children. A hundred years later, they took on their familiar bright colors and kurbit (flower-patterned) saddle and harness designs.

Karen Duquette under the Dala Horse Dala Horse

Below: The Dala Horse in North Dakota, USA

Below: FLASHBACK to June 22, 2008 - Karen Duquette on a Dala Horse in a playground in STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN

Dala Horse Karen Duquette on a Dala horse in Sweden
sign: Scandinavian Herigage Park Nordic Pavilion
 Nordic Pavilion for the arts

Below: The Sigdal House is a 230-year-old house from the Vatnas area of Sigdal, Norway, the oldest house in North Dakota. It was selected to be representative of a typical house from old-time Norway,

It was purchased by the Scandinavian Heritage Association from Thorvald Watnas and restored with museum standards by Arne Svarstad and crew. The house was then dismantled with each log being carefully numbered for accurate reassembling. Even the old moss which was used to seal in between the logs was saved along with the rocks that formed the fireplace. The entire house was carefully packed in an overseas container and shipped to Minot, and Svarstad and his helpers reassembled the house in the park.

The decorations on the doors inside the house as they were painted about 1800 by the famous painter from Sigdal, Guldbrand Larsen Foss and were restored by artist Hans Wold prior to the house coming to America.

The completed house was dedicated on October 15, 1991 as a tangible reminder of the important part our forebears have played in the lives of all of us.

sign: Sigdal House  Sigdal House

Below: Karen Duquette found a new friend inside the Sigdal House.

laughing clipart dude scary dude
Karen Duquette and a new friend

Below: This stabbur is a replica of a storehouse from a farm near Telemark, Norway. The original was built about 1775. This replica was constructed in Norway. It was then disassembled and shipped to Minot where it was reconstructed in 1990.
Trunks with clothing and valuables were stored on the upper floor. Food and commodities were stored on the ground floor. Water and rodents were the biggest enemies in a storehouse. Stilts raised the floor level, the wooden steps did not come into contact with the building to reduce the possibility of rodent infestation and meat/cheese was hung from the ceiling.
According to the Norwegian folklore each farmstead has a Christmas gnome living in their stabbur. The Christmas gnome brings gifts for well-behaved children. But if the gnomes are not well-looked after, they can play tricks on people. Some people put out a bowl of rice porridge sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon to keep their barn gnome happy, much like children today leave out cookies for Santa.

stabbur sign stabbur

Below: This Finnish sauna was completed in 1997 when FinnFest USA held its annual national celebration in Minot. Typically, a sauna consists of a dressing room, wooden benches and a stove of hot, glowing stones heating the room to 190 to 280 degrees.

Sprinkling water on the stones makes the sauna steamier. Some bathers beat themselves with wet, leafy birch twigs to stimulate circulation. Following a hot sauna, the bathers jump into the nearest lake or swimming pool and then repeat the process. Saunas for men and women are usually separate.

Inviting guests for a sauna is as common as inviting them for a meal.

In America, saunas, always known to those of Finnish descent, acquired much wider popularity when one was installed at the 1960 Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley, California. President John F. Kennedy built one at the White House

Finland has 4,000,000 people and 5,000,000 private saunas!

Finnish sauna

Below: A bronze statue of Norwegian-born Casper Oimoen, who was a long-time Minot resident, stands tall in the park. Oimoen was widely-acclaimed across the continent for his graceful ski-jumping skill.

He was a member of the 1932 U.S. Olympic Ski Team and captained the team for the 1936 Winter Olympics. The 1931 official Olympic selection report stated: "Casper the best skier in the United States and because of his outstanding performances this season has been ranked number one on the team and the honor of being team captain." Casper was the featured jumper at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair tournament.

A Chicago newspaper story said, "...This daring fellow has won more titles...than any other skier." In 1963, he was inducted into the U.S. Skiing Hall of Fame and credited with initiating the forward lean to ski jumping in America.

Norwegian-born Casper Oimoen statue Norwegian-born Casper Oimoen plaque

Below: Sondre Norheim statue: Almost forgotten after his death in 1897, Sondre Norheim, the father of modern skiing, has been immortalized, not only with a marker on his grave at the Norway Lutheran Church south of Denbigh, but with a statue in the Scandinavian Heritage Park.

He brought the joy of skiing to the world and played a crucial role as skiing during the late 19th century changed from utility into enjoyment and sports. Norheim was the acrobatic master of the slopes - a man whose traces in the snow will always be visible.

Friends in Skien, Minot's sister city in Norway, raised half of the funds for the statue which was also sponsored by Norsk Hostfest Association and dedicated during the 1987 Hostfest.

A duplicate statue of Norheim was unveiled on January 16, 1988 in Morgedal, Norheim's birthplace in Norway. Norheim is credited in Norway and elsewhere with making the Telemark area The "Cradle of Skiing."

(Read about The Sondre Norheim Eternal Flame below the statue, and see the photo of it.)

Sondre Norheim statue

Below: Lars Berge Haugann of Morgedal, Norway, lit the Sondre Norheim Eternal Flame on December 4, 1993. A flame from the fireplace of Norheim's birthplace in Norway was transported to Minot by North Dakota Governor Edward Schafer on a Norsk Hostfest sponsored trip. Five aluminum skis, symbolic of the five Scandinavian countries, support a World globe which represents the many contributions to the sport of skiing that Sondre Norheim gave the World. The monument was designed by Minot artist Sheldon Larson.

plaque: Sondre Norheim Eternal Flame Sondre Norheim Eternal Flame

Below: International Flag Display: It was a stirring occasion on Tuesday, October 12, 1992 when the Flag Display was dedicated. Ambassadors and many other diplomats from the five Scandinavian countries were present to pay tribute to this unique park, situated near the Geographical Center of North America.

The national anthems were proudly sung as the flags of the five Scandinavian countries, Canada and the United States were raised to the top of their 30-foot-high aluminum poles. The flags fly the year around and are illuminated at night. The following descriptions are helpful in identifying the flags of these Nordic countries:

Denmark - A white cross on a red field is the simple design of the Danish national flag, known as the Dannebrog (the Spirit of Denmark), may be the oldest national flag in continuous use.

Finland - It has a light blue Scandinavian cross on a white field, symbolizing Finland's blue lakes and white snow.

Iceland - The design of the Icelandic flag identifies it as one of the Scandinavian groups with a red cross bordered in white on a dark blue field.

Norway - The flag's design is based on the Dannebrog - the Danish flag. The Norwegians added the blue cross to the red and white Dannebrog as a symbol of freedom.

Sweden - It is a golden yellow Scandinavian cross on a blue field derived from the ancient state coat of arms dating from 1364, which bears three golden yellow crowns on a blue field.

International Flag Display

Below: Inside the Museum

doll in museum doll in museum
clothing in museum

Below: Inside the Gift Shop - A dude with his hand in the wrong place!laughing clipart dude

wood carving Karen Duquette and the fresh dude

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