Thursday, September 17, 2009

Finland, Finland, Finland.
The country where I want to be,
Pony trekking or camping,
Or just watching TV,
Finland, Finland, Finland.
It's the country for me.

You're so near to Russia.
So far from Japan,
Quite a long way from Cairo,
Lots of miles from Vietnam.

Monty Python, "Finland," 1980.

And quite some distance from Houghton, Michigan, on the Upper Peninsula. The. U.P. is the only place in America where people of Finnish descent. Wikipedia states (and I don't have any reason to question it) that 16 percent of the population of the Upper Peninsula claims Finnish ancestry, and it is the only place in the United States that has counties with a plurality of residents with Finnish blood.

Once I entered the Keweenaw Peninsula--the U.P. has its own peninsulas--I began to notice Finnish-surnamed roads.

The Finnish wave of immigration to the Upper Peninsula occurred in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, many of them found work as loggers or toiling in the then- thriving copper and iron mines.

Houghton is known, at least in Michigan, as the home of Michigan Tech University. Finlandia University is Houghton's other college. The streetlight poles of downtown Houghton alternate American and Finnish flags.

Mining will be the subject of my next few Upper Peninsula Upventure posts.

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