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How a Little Bit of Norway Came to Northeast Iowa
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How a Little Bit of Norway Came to Northeast Iowa

In a small town park, located in the northeastern part of Iowa, sits a well-built log cabin. The cabin immigrated to its current location in 1976. A group of several Ossian Crown Club members who valued history and culture committed many valuable hours of their time to find this particular log cabin. Other community members also donated their time, money, and support to make sure cabin made its trek from a farm pasture to its new home in the park. That was 41 years ago. Today, the cabin remains in its very spot alongside Highway 52 in Ossian. Known as Carey’s Park, the land that the cabin sits on-- was transformed in 1955 by the Bob Carey family of Ossian. Bob was a local businessman with a dream to clear the land and make it into a rest stop for travelers and others to enjoy.

Not really knowing the history of the Cabin didn’t hinder this small group of people from their aspiration. Still, the first few cabins they looked at that year just didn't work. The logs were not strong enough to make the journey, through the hills and valleys of northern Iowa.  However, this particular log cabin, nestled alongside a winding spring, was built strong and hardy by its original owner Lars Olson.


 (The Log Cabin at its current site in Carey’s Park, Ossian)


 (Suidal Norway)

The child of a Norwegian Fisherman, Lars Olson was born in 1820 in Rangvedt, Suidal near Stavanger, Norway. He grew to be a Carpenter. Lars married Thorbjar Thorson in 1849 in Stavanger. After they were married, Lars and Thorbjar moved to Sigedal, where they lived until deciding to immigrate to America. Sailing here proved a horrific hardship for the young family. They lost two children to Typhoid Fever and were forced to leave them at sea. After several weeks of sailing on the small ship, the family finally made it and began their new life in the U.S. After a few short years in Lac Que Parle, Lars and Thorbjar moved to Iowa and in 1869.  Like many early settlers, the family purchased a plot of land to build their home. This particular parcel of land was in Dover Township, not far from the Ossian Stavanger Church. Lars cleared the land of brush, weeds, and trees to build a place for his family to enjoy. They pent their lives in the log cabin and together they worked their land, fulfilling their dream of living in America. 

(Original Site of the Log Cabin in Dover Township)

In 1955, Bob Carey was given permission from the Iowa State Highway Commission to make a small parcel located across the street from his gas station into a rest area and park for others. His time, money, and skill transformed the unused piece of land into a beautiful park for weary travelers of Highway 52. Nearly one hundred and seven years later, the Olson Log Cabin was uncovered with the help of another local businessman who'd previously spotted the log cabin while visiting the area. The cabin was then donated to the city, and with many community members getting involved, the cabin would soon make its journey to the small Iowa community. 

Relocating the cabin seemed to be the greatest challenge. A semi-tractor and lowboy trailer was donated by Reilly Construction of Ossian. Hauling the building across northeast Iowa, while challenging, was a much simpler journey than the Olson’s experienced all those years ago on that sailing ship. Robert Reilly of Ossian recalls the day as he and his driver, Gordy Oakland, spent their time helping to move the structure.

 “It was a muddy mess back in that field and your dad used his wrecker to get the cabin up onto the lowboy semi trailer. As we were coming across the Huntsinger Bridge, an Iowa State Trooper stopped the whole process and asked for a moving permit. Being Bob was heading this whole ordeal, I looked at him and all he could do was shrug his shoulders. I was so mad at him that day!” 

Mr. Reilly explained to the officer that moving the log cabin to Ossian was part of an in-kind donation from his company for a non-profit organization the Ossian Crown Club

“I don’t believe they ticketed us but I can’t be sure. That was a long time ago! If your dad would have kept his mouth shut, we would have gotten into Ossian without a hitch! As we were heading out to load up the cabin, your dad was on the CB (radio) and apparently the troopers heard him and came to check on the move.”

Many others from the town of Ossian devoted their time and energy to get the cabin moved. The Herman Pape family donated the structure. Ossian Crown Club members spent endless hours searching for the perfect log cabin. And of course, Reilly Construction used its own heavy equipment to ensure a successful relocation. The Valland Brothers, a pair of brothers who were area carpenters, contributed their time and talent to shore up the cabin for its trek across the counties and made sure it was settled safely into its new location. Naturally, so much credit goes to Bob Carey for his time and effort to help with the structure search, for his help with the move, and for building the park for others to enjoy. This kind of kindness, compassion, and generosity is what northeast Iowa is made of.

Still-- who knew that this little cabin would bring so much Norwegian heritage and history to Ossian?


  1. Imagine Northeast Iowa Support
    Imagine Northeast Iowa Support
    What a story! Thanks so much for posting!

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