Norwegians Settle in Decorah

Many Norwegians immigrated to Decorah, Iowa and called it their western home--their Vesterheim.


I think probably the biggest impetus to making Decorah the center region of the Norwegian-American culture was the establishment of Luther College in 1861. The college had originally been started in Wisconsin and was moved to Decorah, then in 1872 or 3, I believe, a Norwegian language newspaper was begun in Decorah called: “Decorah Posten’, which had a very large circulation not only in the United States but in Norway. And people became aware of Decorah through “Decorah Posten” and Luther College. And everyone then seemed to come through Decorah at that point; it was kind of the capitol.

People continued to pour into the Decorah area mostly to farm the rich Upper Iowa River land. They brought with them their few special belongings in rosemaled trunks. And in their hearts they carried their traditions and memories from home. Ready to settle in their Vesterheim, the name they gave their western home.

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