8th Finglish trip May 2009 #11
In the 1910s around ten Finnish families moved from the mining town of Butte, Montana to California. Later they were joined by others, and finally there were over thirty families. Following their socialist ideals, they establish Finnish Colony Inc., a cooperative farm that paid all its members the same wage. The Finns first shared a single building with a communal kitchen, but the house burnt down and the families lost everything they owned. New single-family houses were built and only the sauna remained in shared use.
The Finns first grew grapes for wine, along with keeping chickens, livestock and horses. Wine-growing, however, ended because of irrigation problems. In 1922, two-thirds of the families decided to leave the cooperative. Seven families bought their shares with a bank loan and continued the work of Finnish Colony. Cooperative ideals, however, were soon forgotten and the recession of the 1920s spelled the end of the Colony, as its land was repossessed by a bank. There are still some people of Finnish descent living in the area. The last “Finnish monument” is probably Vic’s Place, a bar owned by Veikko Soinila.
Next Niebaum-Coppola Winery Napa Valley California USA