odalen church cross

An 80-foot cross marks where the historic Odalen Church once stood,
near Edinburg, N.D.
Photo: David Monson

Last June, fire took the Odalen Church, outside Edinburg, North Dakota, the last public building in this Norwegian community “at the end of the coulee.” The historic church six miles from town was lost just weeks before Edinburg’s 125th anniversary celebration, but the community soldiered (and danced) on.

Dave Monson, who sent us the unforgorgettable photos of the church fire a year ago, has been in contact again — with a picture of the 80-foot steel cross the community commissioned. It was installed two weeks ago amid the pioneer gravestones, where “The Church by the Lake” used to be.

The fire “was a terrible blow,” writes Dave’s sister Rita Mielke. She says that the community raised $40,000 for the steel cross — “a landmark, as was the steeple of Odalen” — and will raise another $17,000 to illuminate it. “We think this tribute to our Norwegian ancestors and immigrants will also honor the state of North Dakota.” Odalen Lutheran Church was on the National Historic Register.

To learn more about Edinburg and its effort, see the community’s website.

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