The Mesaba Co-op Park in Minnesota, found by American-Finns, was listed on the United States National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).
In late 1928, the Mesaba Range Co-operative Federation began securing land for a park to accommodate large Finnish gatherings. One hundred and sixty acres, including a fifty-two-acre lake not shown on lumber company maps, were purchased for $2000. Forty Finnish American organizations purchased membership shares. Volunteers cleared land for a road, grounds, and building sites. The park served as a gathering place for Finns and a center for Midsummer festival and other celebrations.
In the early 20th century, many Finns worked at the Mesabi Iron Range in Minnesota, and the miners worked long hours on low pay. The workers struck a lot. On July 20, 1907, workers demanded an eight-hour working day and a pay rise. The strike lasted two months and resulted in thousands of workers being blacklisted, including Finns. The Finns conceived and founded the Finnish Cooperative Movement, which was partly a response to this discrimination. In June 1929, as the park work progressed, an article in the Finnish-language Työmies newspaper announced that local Finns were celebrating for the last time in Chisholm before their own gathering place.
Mesaba Co-op Park Today
The park is one of the few remaining cooperative parks in the United States and is open to the public. Guests can enjoy the park’s history, cultural heritage and natural beauty. There are twelve campsites in the area, with five electric connections for caravans located in a beautiful forest area. Four rustic cabins and residential buildings provide sleeping quarters. A public restroom and showers are available. The wood-heated sauna is also heated for members. The historic pavilion of the park was rebuilt in the 1930s. On the upper level of the historic pavilion is a large Dance Hall with a maple wood floor and a stage ideal for speakers, performances, musicians, etc. The ballroom accommodates 200 guests. The downstairs pavilion has a large kitchen and dining room for 100 people. The pavilion is available for groups during the summer season. The facilities at Mesaba Co-op Park are well suited for group use. The park hosts artistic workshops, community festivals, family reunions, retreats, meetings, educational conferences, children’s camps and wedding parties.
You do not need to be a member to use the facilities or participate in activities.
More information about the park here