Finland, Minnesota is nestled in the Baptism River Valley, surrounded by rugged hills and cliffs, called the Sawtooth Mountains. Its rugged isolation made it one of the last areas of Minnesota to be settled. It wasn’t until the late 1890′s that the first Finns and other Scandinavians began to file for homesteads in this remote section of Lake County. These first settlers, who found the area strongly reminiscent of their rugged homelands, endured the great hardships in order to claim their land. All supplies came by ship and were carried on the backs of setters to their homesteads. The first homes were one room log cabins, which housed the family and provided shelter for anyone else that had need of a place to stay. Mail came by sailboat or steamship in summer and by dogsled in winter.
In 1907, the Alger Smith Company built a railroad to the community in order to facilitate its logging operations there. Logging was a major industry, producing great quantities of white pine, cedar, balsam and spruce. After that, progress came quickly. Roads were built, mail came by an open coach, a Co-op was organized in 1913, Greyhound bus lines began service in 1920 and electricity came in 1939. By 1935 there were 179 Finnish families with about 500 acres of cleared land. The farms produced grains, vegetables, berries, apples, cows and pigs, but cream was the only product shipped out.
The primary means of livelihood are timber, taconite, and tourism.