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Archive for December 31st, 2018

Originally published in the MVHS Bugle, December 2005

By Barbara Nilson

Francis Niemela displays a sketch of the cabin his father Charles built of railroad ties on Lake Francis in 1915.

Francis Niemela displays a sketch of the cabin his father Charles built of railroad ties on Lake Francis in 1915.

Eighty-four years of memories will be on tap, Sunday, Feb. 12, [2006,] at the Grange Hall, when Francis Niemela recalls life with the Finnish community on Lake Francis. His parents, Charles and Katri Niemela, came to Maple Valley and purchased 20 acres at the lake in 1915.

During that time there was a railroad that came around the lake and his Dad picked up railroad ties and built his first house out of them. Later that building was converted to a sauna and also used for smoking salmon and bacon when they constructed a large loghouse in 1918. That home was later purchased by the Dufenhorst family.

The Finns at Lake Francis had little stump ranches and their saunas in place of indoor plumbing. Niemela said the greatest sauna was the Lahtinen’s. It was open house every Saturday night and Mrs. Lahtinen would serve coffee and goodies. “Some of the offspring of those Finns like Walt Sipila and Walt Miller are still here,” he said. (more…)

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