Immigration

They had to learn a new language, they got diseases they had never known about in Norway, there were new ways to build houses and work the land, and there were many types of crops and food that they had only ever heard about, but never seen. They also had to learn about a new type of market economy. It was not enough to have a good harvest if you wanted to make a living selling farm produce.


A good crop year often meant falling market prices and less money for the farmer and his family.

On the prairie, many had to live in sod houses with earthen floors before they could manage to build a proper wooden house. Lumber and building materials were scarce
 

On the prairie, many had to live in sod houses with earthen floors before they could manage to build a proper wooden house. Lumber and building materials were scarce. 

There was a lot to get used to! Living on the prairie meant a huge change from the mountainous villages of Norway. It was wonderful to be surrounded by miles and miles of thick sod where you could plant crops, but that meant that it sometimes was miles to the next neighbor. For some it was hard to never be able to “rest their eyes” on variations in the landscape.  


The open landscape also brought bad weather and storms with strong winds they had never experienced before.

The wind meant that temperatures could swing quickly. There were also dangers like grasshopper swarms that could eat an entire crop before it could be harvested.  

Even so, many enthusiastic letters were sent from Norwegian immigrants to the folks back home, and these were important in influencing even more people to make the journey across. This also influenced the settlement patterns for the Norwegians that came to America.

The map shows the number of Americans of Norwegian descent according to the 1990 US census. 

Exercise/activity 








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Western Telemark in pictures and on film
See what Western Telemark looks like from a helicopter, or take a virtual trip along the Telemark Canal with the canal boat MS Henrik Ibsen.
 
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