The Settlers

Only the skipper of “Restauration”, Lars Olsen Helland and Peder Eriksen Meland, remained in New York. No one knows what happened to them. The rest of the group followed Cleng Peerson to Kendall, near Rochester, in the state of New York, which became the first Norwegian settlement in America.

Fox River
Later the trip went west to Fox River in Illinois, approx. 100 miles southwest of Chicago. Here the second settlement was established. Most of the 167 emigrants who came to the Nordic countries and the Norwegian Rock in 1836 settled here. In 1850, there were 1252 people living in the Fox River, and during the 1860s the number rose to more than 3,200.

From the 1840s until the outbreak of the American Civil War (1862-65), the state of Wisconsin was a center for Norwegian settler activity. Ole Nattestad was the first Norwegian to settle in Wisconsin, and Muskego became the most famous Norwegian settlement.

All the way up to approx. In 1850, most immigrants came to New York. From here, the trip continued up the Hudson River, through the Eire Canal and across the Great Lakes to cities such as Chicago and Milwaukee. From the 1850s there were trains from Chicago to New York, and from 1856 directly from Quebec to Detroit.

A technological revolution on water and on land had opened North America to the rest of the world. This is primarily due to the construction of a widespread canal and railway network.

The road to the west: The canals
The construction of the Erie canal started in 1817 and was completed in 1825, in time for the slave people to use it. Thousands of immigrants, mostly Irish, had built the 584-kilometer-long canal that connected the city of Albany, the capital of New York State, with the city of Buffalo, on Lake Erie. The canal reduced travel time between the Midwest and New York by almost 70 percent and transportation costs by 90 percent.