Size: 43 acres
Status: Completed 2014
Program: Master plan for development and reorganization of existing facility, including new Native American Cultural Center, prehistoric Native American village, effigy and enclosure mounds, furrow gardens, and pioneer structures.
Norskedalen Heritage Site Master Plan – Phase One
One of two historic properties managed by Norskedalen, the existing Skumsrud/Thrune site is an underutilized 43-acre heritage farm and open air museum located one half mile west of Coon Valley on US Highway 14/61 in Vernon County, Wisconsin. Archaeological evidence supports the conclusion that this site was inhabited by Native Americans for millennia. The discovery of pottery shards, projectile points and other artifacts tell the story of ongoing Native American presence for the past 13,000 years. Even after European immigrants arrived in the 1800’s, there are documented narratives of ongoing contact and cooperative interaction between members of the Native American population and the more recently arrived Norwegian settlers. The Master Plan describes a new vision for this remarkable property, a vision as an important regional cultural heritage destination offering memorable educational, tourism, research, and event-hosting opportunities.
A centerpiece of the master plan is the reconstruction of a great circular mound in the tradition of Native American astronomical mound building. This mound will enclose four acres of space and contain alignments to events like the summer solstice The new LEED-rated visitor center will respond to the unique bioclimatic conditions found on the site, resulting in a highly energy and water efficient building that sits lightly on the land.
The goal of this project is to offer an immersive experience of a way of life and connectedness to the land. Visitors, including students, will be able to experience the smells of a camp fire, feel the breezes that blow the prairie grass, hear the cry of the eagle or the rapids of Coon Creek, walk into an authentic long house and talk with guides or Native Americans who can portray what life would have been like in another time.