Norsekdalen Timeline


  • Dr. Alf and Carroll Gundersen donate 112 acre High Hopes farm to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Foundation to be used as an outdoor classroom.
  • Biology Department is the governing body by volunteer committee


  • UW-L Foundation purchases 160 acre Oscar Ophus farm with funds donated by the Wehrer Family Endowment.


  • UW-L Foundation purchases the 80 acre Volden farm with funds donated by Ethel Thrune.


  • Robert Swartz, first full time Arboretum Manager hired. His position was changed to Executive Director in 1983. He served for 10 years.


  • $300,000 donation received from Ethel Thrune for a nature center in memory of her husband Richard Thrune and the pioneer settlers of the valley
  • In October, the first community committee meetings are held for Homestead, Museum, and Library Committees as a part of preserving the regional heritage


  • Project name changes from Gundersen Arboretum to Norskedalen (which means Norwegian Valley)
  • April – groundbreaking for Thrune Visitors’ Center
  • May – the Bakke corn crib is the first building moved to homestead after being a float in the Westby Syttende Mai parade
  • Restoration of log buildings begins with funds donated by Owen and Dorothy Bekkum
  • Lloyd and his sister Ruth Thrune donate their 44 acre farm to preserve the historic 1853 Skumsrud log cabin and to perpetuate the Norwegian heritage of the area – this becomes the Skumsrud-Thrune Heritage Farm


  • May – Dedication of Norskedalen’s Thrune Visitors’ Center, Bekkum Homestead, and the Helga Gundersen Arboretum with gala public event


  • The Wold-Stendahlen log house (donated and dismantled in 1983) opens as a gift shop
  • First Midsummer Festival


  • First Old-Fashioned Christmas


  • Second barn (Aarness Berg Bjornstad barn) comes to Bekkum Homestead
  • October – raptor mews built and bird programming begun


  • First Threshing Bee and meal


  • The restored Lindevig House at Skumsrud Heritage Farm opens


  • 40 acres of land on west side of coulee purchased with funds donated by the Paul E. Stry Foundation…named Strywald.
  • The Andersstuen House, donated in 1986, is restored at Skumsrud Heritage Farm
  • The Haugen shanty is moved and restored at the Bekkum Homestead
  • The Moilien machine shed is moved to the Bekkum Homestead
  • Stone arch bridge built in the arboretum by Wisconsin Conservation Corps.


  • The Erickson School, donated in 1983 – dismantled and stored in 1986 is restored at Skumsrud Heritage Farm
  • The 1853 Skumsrud log cabin is placed on the National Register of Historic Places
  • James K. Nestingen was hired as Executive Director. He served until 1994.


  • $440,000 donated by the Paul E. Stry Foundation for addition and major renovation of the Thrune Visitors’ Center
  • The Tommerassen granary, donated and dismantled in 1990, is restored at the Skumsrud Heritage Farm
  • Ihle blacksmith shop donated and Thorsgaard corn crib restored at Skumsrud Heritage farm
  • First Ghoulees in the Coulees event.


  • The Volden springhouse dismantled stone by stone and moved from the Volden farm to the Bekkum Homestead and is made operational after two years of restoration work
  • Brye summer shanty, donated in 1989, is restored at the Skumsrud Heritage farm
  • The Heritage Trail through Norskedalen grounds along with guide brochure is completed


  • South Loop trail through the Gundersen Arboretum and arboretum brochure completed
  • New bridge built over Poplar Creek by Gundersen Barn


  • Wold House dedication in May after several years restoration work
  • The Gundersen Pond rebuilt so that it would be smaller, deeper and colder for better trout habitat


  • Norskedalen becomes independent of the UW-L Foundation and becomes a private, non-profit corporation
  • Skumsrud Heritage Farm becomes the new name for Skumsrud-Thrune Farm
  • Mathy Construction graveled the road from parking lot to arboretum with bus pull-off lane
  • New highway signs installed to direct the public


  • Grand opening of the restored Haatvedt-Ekern house at Skumsrud Heritage Farm
  • New shelter house is completed with floor, sidewalks, kitchen and fireplace
  • Programming expanded at Skumsrud Heritage Farm including staffing, artisans demonstrating and selling their works and Heritage classes begun
  • Lloyd Thrune Carving Show and Competition added to Midsummer Fest event
  • First Civil War Encampment
  • First rummage sale fundraiser
  • Carlson house donated and dismantled


  • New trail constructed (North Loop Trail)
  • Leif the Viking statue donated by Morris & Theresa Nelson


  • Halvor and Bendikka Peterson Memorial Endowment Fund established within Norskedalen’s Endowment fund
  • Gunder Bagstad house restoration begun
  • Norskedalen gets new paved entrance road and upper parking lot funded by Owen and Dorothy Bekkum
  • Major summer storm damage in June (during Midsummer Fest!) and November does much tree damage
  • First Bunad luncheon
  • First artisans weekend at Skumsrud Heritage Farm


  • The new red Norskedalen truck was purchased and new entrance archway and gate installed.
  • The trail system re-opened after last year’s storm
  • The Skumsrud Heritage Farm opens 7 days a week seasonally
  • A commercial cooler donated by the Reinhart family installed in the Thrune Visitors’ Center kitchen and cooler in the shelter house donated by Pepsi Bottling Co,


  • Fundraising by Benrud family begins toward pioneer church project
  • Shuttle purchased to help transport less mobile visitors
  • Bagstad house grand opening at Skumsrud Heritage Farm
  • Norskedalen’s first web-site goes on line


  • Thrune museum completed and dedicated in August
  • $15000 Stry grant received for a handicapped-accessible trail to arboretum
  • Jim Fowler, of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom gives presentation


  • Holte Cabin restoration completed
  • High Hope Springs handicapped-accessible trail in the Gundersen Arboretum dedicated
  • Gundersen-Running tobacco shed moved to Bekkum homestead, funded by Owen Bekkum
  • Besadny grant received for Norskedalen’s bird egg collection


  • Wold-Stendahlen House Exhibit set up
  • Skumsrud cabin celebrates sesquicentennial


  • Michelet-Buros House dedication at Skumsrud Heritage Farm


  • First membership survey sent out
  • Rognhulet granary moved to Norskedalen from Carol Hagen farm
  • Bermester Charitable Trust funds ‘Mammals of Wisconsin’ exhibit


  • Per and Anne Paulsen cabin (former Rognhulet /Caretaker cabin) renovated for public rental
  • Strategic planning process results in a new five year Strategic Plan adopted by the Board in October
  • Diane Gunvalson was hired as Executive Director. She served until 2008.
  • Norskedalen Nights and Saturday morning programming are started
  • Forest Stewardship Plan completed and adopted as a result of joining Kickapoo Wood Co-op.


  • Norskedalen kicks off a year of celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the gift from Dr. Alf and Carroll Gundersen
  • New website designed by Sleeping Giant Studios goes on-line
  • First Sweet, Sweet Spring celebration spearheaded by Vince Hundt, Rick Brown, Jacob Hundt and the Driftless Folk School
  • Helga Gundersen Memorial Bunad Show at the Radisson with over 275 in attendence
  • 30th Anniversary Flag unveiled at re-dedication of Gundersen Arboretum
  • August 18th flood damages/destroys 7 of 10 bridges
  • Owen Bekkum honored at Threshing Bee for 25 years of support and new path to Bekkum homestead donated by Owen Bekkum
  • Wisconsin Arts Board grant for $5,251 received to develop a Norskedalen Folk Bunad and related displays
  • $40,000 Strosaker grant for renovations to the Thrune Center received.


  • Grand Opening of the Bunad Exhibit;
  • The movie Fort McCoy begins filming at Norskedalen and Skumsrud
    The “Twilight Tour” event is successfully established;
  • Norskedalen Award banquet honors Jim and Joyce Halverson and Carl Halverson.


  • Outdoor amphitheater constructed and officially dedicated, donated by David and Ruth Amundson;
  • First annual Art Fair and Chocolate Soiree held at Skumsrud;
  • After two decades of effort the “Little White Church” was transported from Sparta and rebuilt on Norskedalen’s grounds, donated by the Benrud family.


  • Agnes Steenberg (posthumously) honored for Norskedalen Award
  • First ever Archaeology Day
  • Lindevig House roof was replaced at Skumsrud Heritage Farm
  • 2nd Annual Art Fair and Chocolate Soiree held at Skumsrud
  • Scrip Shopping Card fundraising program begun
  • 23rd Annual Ice Cream Social held at Skumsrud
  • 24th Annual Threshing Bee at Norskedalen
  • 15th Annual Lloyd Thrune Carving Show
  • 19th Annual Ghoulees in the Coulees
  • 15th Annual Civil War Heritage Days
  • 26th Annual Midsummer Fest
  • 25th Annual Old-Fashioned Christmas
  • Smoky the Bear visits Environmental Education Days
  • Sod roof on granary at Bekkum Homestead was replaced
  • Floods ravage the bridges again this year