Finnish Pioneer Park

If you ever are in Cokato, Minn and up for a little history, you can can find it by heading three miles North on Wright County 3.    You will find yourself at a corner with a school, a sauna, a log cabin and a Temperance Hall.   Until I stumbled across it, I did not know of it’s existence.

The story of the Minneapolis Finntown begins with the 1864 arrival of Finnish immigrants on their way to homestead land near Cokato, in Wright County, some fifty miles west. Minneapolis became their “big city.” Already in the late 1860’s, Finnish immigrant men returned to raise capitol for their homesteads, working in the Minneapolis brickyards. Their families came to expect regular migrations between the homesteads and Minneapolis. The pattern became the way the Finntown community formed and continued. Minneapolis became the workplace, and the rural areas became the homes.  (1)

The Cokato Finnish American Historical Society preserves the history of the Finnish pioneers and others who settled in this area of Wright County. The society is a non-profit organization that owns and maintains several historic buildings located three miles north of Cokato on County Road 3. The Finnish Pioneer Park is commonly known as Temperance Corner: (2)

My shots are a mixture of some taken this spring and some from late spring 2013.  While I’m not generally a fan of snow photos, I think the snow helps give perspective to how this  place feels in the when the Finnish people lived there during the winter.

Log Cabin – Built in 1866, this 10′ x 12′ cabin was home to 15+ people one winter.

Log Cabin that housed 15 people for a winter

Log Cabin that housed 15 people for a winter


Savu Sauna – Built in 1868, acclaimed to be the oldest sauna in North America.

Believed to be the oldest Sauna in North America

Believed to be the oldest Sauna in North America

Lee School house – Opened in 1899 and originally located in French Lake Township.

Lee School House - District 31

Lee School House – District 31


Temperance Hall – One of the oldest functioning temperance halls, built about 1896.

Temperance Hall

Temperance Hall


Marker recognizing the Temperance Hall on the NRHP

Pioneer Memorial – Erected July 1949 in memory of the Finnish pioneers.

Pioneer Memorial

Pioneer Memorial

Memorial Inscription

Memorial Inscription





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1 Response to Finnish Pioneer Park

  1. Thanks for introducing us to this fascinating place, Ryan. I really like the winter photos because there is less to detract from the main subject. And, as you indicate, the starkness gives us a feel for the isolation of a long winter. But 15 people in that tiny cabin? Talk about cabin fever potential.

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