About This Lesson
This lesson is based on the National Register of Historic Places registration files "Long Valley Finnish Structures," visitor's guides to several western parks, and other sources. It was written by Fay Metcalf, an education consultant. The lesson was edited by the Teaching with Historic Places staff. TwHP is sponsored, in part, by the Cultural Resources Training Initiative and Parks as Classrooms programs of the National Park Service. This lesson is one in a series that brings the important stories of historic places into the classrooms across the country.
Where it fits into the curriculum
Topics: This lesson could be used in teaching units on the development of the early colonies, trans-Appalachian settlement, or late 19th- and early 20th-century immigration.
Time period: 1700s-1900s
Relevant United States History Standards for Grades 5-12
Relevant Curriculum Standards for Social Studies
Find your state's social studies and history standards for grades Pre-K-12
Objectives for students
1) To explain the distinctive features of log structures built by Finnish homesteaders in Idaho.
2) To explain how Finns and Swedes influenced the techniques used for building log structures.
3) To describe how the log cabin became so widely used among colonists and later pioneers.
4) To investigate the student's own locality to find out what kind of folk housing was prevalent in their own community.
Materials for students
The materials listed below either can be used directly on the computer or can be printed out, photocopied, and distributed to students. The maps and images appear twice: in a low-resolution version with associated questions and alone in a larger, high-quality version.
1) one map showing the location of Finnish speakers;
2) three readings which examine the origins of log structures and their adoption by the American public as a symbol of self-reliance and virtue;
3) one drawing and two photos of notching systems and cabin details;
4) four photos different log structures built by the Finnish in Long Valley, Idaho.
Visiting the site
The Finnish log structures discussed in this lesson are located off Highway 55 (some on unimproved, some on unnamed, roads) in the vicinity of Donnelly, Idaho.
They are privately owned and not open to the public. However, the nearby Southern Idaho Timber Association buildings are also good examples of Finnish log construction. The buildings are located at the corner of Lake and State streets in the town of McCall and on Highway 55 in Smith's Ferry.