Alaska’s Little Norway

After an evening anchored up in Scow Bay we pulled into Petersburg.  Petersburg was settled by Norwegian Fishermen and is located not far from the active tidewater LeConte Glacier that provided ice to pack fish for shipment south.  We all gathered in the Sons of Norway hall where we had Norwegian cookies and watched a folk-dance performance by local kids.

Following that we had some free time and Suzi and I headed to the library to look at a relatively new totem pole carved by our friend Tommy Joseph. “The Storyteller” pole had figures from children’s literature mixed with Native themes. 

Petersburg’s public art included trash cans made up to look like salmon cans and medallions set in the sidewalk depicting different Petersburg industries, logging and fishing among them.  

One feature of Petersburg is rosemaling (rose painting.)  In the early 1700s folk art in Norway started to imitate some of the Baroque church art.  People in certain valleys started to decorate shutters and doors, and later tools, with colorful painting.  You could find plates, bowls, ax handles all with regional designs.  The trend lasted into the mid 1800s and came to America with immigrants, and so it came to Petersburg.  The art form enjoyed a revival during the Second World War as a nationalist symbol in defiance to the Nazi, who viewed it as a quaint and primitive folk art, but many of the wartime designs has slashes built in that looked like a “7” representing King Haakon 7, the exiled king.   

Like most Southeast Alaska towns, Petersburg has a fisherman’s memorial and, of course, because it’s Petersburg, a Viking ship.

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