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Highlights I wanted to share, 

    the next stories, those I want to tell

Chris Claremont, a Brit by birth, is an American comic book writer and novelist, who worked for Marvel Comics. He once wrote, “The more stories I told, the more I found I wanted to tell. There was always something left unsaid. I got hooked by my own impulse of 'Well, what's gonna happen next?’”

That’s the way I feel about highlighting stuff about Wisconsin for you that cannot be left unsaid.

Claremont expresses my feeling perfectly: “What excites me, what attracts me, what gets me up in the morning is telling the next story and getting it out in front of readers and hoping they'll love it too.”

 There is no end to the stories I could tell. I hope you enjoy these.

Norskedalen Nature & Heritage Center

Norskedalen means “Norwegian Valley.” It is a  “nature and heritage center dedicated to preserving, interpreting and sharing the natural environment and cultural heritage of the area surrounding Coon Valley in southwest Wisconsin. “ 

The Center provides environmental education, Norwegian heritage classes, and events celebrating the heritage and nature important to Wisconsin’s Coulee Region.

Guided tours provide a first-hand view of historic buildings and share historical information about Norwegian immigration to this area.

Norskedalen is located three miles north of Coon Valley on La Crosse County Road PI. It is in the heart of Wisconsin’s Coulee country. 

The Wisconsin Historical Society tells us. 

“The first Norwegian immigrants in Wisconsin arrived in 1839, settling on land near Lake Muskego in Waukesha County.” Norwegian immigrants who settled there and the new ones to come moved further west into Dane County, known as the “Koshkonong Prairie. 

“The communities of Deerfield, Cambridge, McFarland, Cottage Grove, and Stoughton eventually became the largest Norwegian-American community in the state.” 

Ole Knudsen Nattestad is said to have been the earliest Norwegian settler in Wisconsin.

The entrance to Norskedalen immediately introduces you to the coulee landscape. In the northwestern United States, a coulee is a large, steep-walled, trench-like trough. It is a rugged region shaped by narrow valleys often described as coulees.

I have driven around the Coulee Region several times and never tired of its natural beauty.  How does a coulee differ from a valley? That’s a good question. A Coulee is usually very narrow, far narrower than a valley. Additionally, the ridges of a Coulee are more steep and more rugged. 

Wisconsin’s coulees are in the state’s” Driftless Area,” which was not covered by glaciers. This area includes bluffs, steep valleys, rivers, and foliage.

The Bekkum Homestead recreates a Norwegian immigrant farm.  It is on the grounds of Norskedalen. The first buildings were moved from neighboring farms and restored in 1982. local families donated the artifacts inside.

Norskedalen describes the homestead,

“The homestead consists of a two-story house, summer kitchen, spring house, corn crib, granary, outhouse, chicken coop, machine shed, tobacco shed, stable, barn, and blacksmith’s shop.”

The late Owen and Dorothy Bekkum made this village possible. Although his roots are in Westby, he settled in Chicago as the CEO of Northern Illinois Gas Company in Aurora, Illinois.

Norskedalen’s Benrud Little White Chapel was built in 1886.  It had been the Trinity Lutheran Church in Sparta. The Bend family moved it in two large sections to the Heritage Center and reconstructed it. says,

“Norskedalen is actually comprised of four different family farms. Back in the 1960s, Doctor Alf Gundersen and his Wife Carroll purchased 120 acres on the South end of the property and developed an arboretum.

“When it became time for Dr. Alf and his wife retire and downsize none of the family was in the position to take the farm/arboretum; it was gifted to UW-LaCrosse … The foundation worked with the neighboring farms to incorporate the three additional farms, that were neighbors to the Gundersen’s, into one that became 400 acres.”

A group with Norwegian roots moved what was known as the “Engum House” to Norskedalen. Volunteers then moved other buildings on neighboring farms within a ten-mile radius. 

The website quotes Laurie Dubczak,

“The buildings are all from the mid-1800s. This is not a re-creation; this is their house, this is how they lived,”

 There is a lot to see and do at Norskedalen that I have not shown here. Furthermore, the landscape and surroundings are something to behold.

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