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A Little History

The 1972 Third District Convention directed the District Board to study the feasibility of the District acquiring real property for the recreational and educational use of the members. However, the District Boards had given serious consideration to this directive but could not take any action for financial reasons.

At the 1977 Spring Third District Board of Directors Meeting, District President Bjarne Eikevik asked for confirmation, and the Board approved, of the formation of a long-range planning committee to consist of John Kaare Hagen, former Supreme President as Chairman, together with Supreme Directors Jan Henriksen and Edmond Trabulsy as members.
The Board approved three basic concepts:

(1) The District Board agreed to purchase a property;
(2) the location of the property to be within approximately 200 miles of New York City; and
(3) the cost of the property should be in the range of $100,000.

Popularly known as the “Wilderness Project’, this then became the vision for the future - a Third District Recreational and Cultural Center.

At the 1978 District Convention, the District Board was authorized to acquire property as a District Recreational and Education Center and to raise funds for that purpose but without assessing the membership. The Long-Range Planning Group was continued with John Kaare Hagen as its Chairman and Frank Tepper and Charles Gardner as members. Late in July 1978 word was received that the “Big Valley Ranch” in Sherman, Pennsylvania might be available at a reduced price from the original asking figure of $185,000. Big Valley Ranch was one of the 40+ sites evaluated earlier but the asking price had been too high.

On August 9, 1978, Third District President Egil Olsen, John Kaare Hagen, and Charles Gardner met with the owners of Big Valley Ranch and negotiated for its purchase at a price of $120,000 with 25% down, and a 20-year mortgage at 8 1/2 % interest. These three then put down $1,000 each to secure a 60-day option. The site located in Sherman, Pennsylvania, had been operated as a Dude Ranch. It consisted of 151 acres of open- and woodland, with a trout pond, a stocked trout stream running through the property, and bordered on three sides by Pennsylvania State-owned Game Land. Included in the purchase was a main lodge with sleeping accommodations for fifty people, large kitchen and dining area, tennis court, two remodeled homes, a sturdy large barn, plus a separate office building, and an in ground swimming pool. Included in the purchase price was the furniture and other equipment needed to operate.

The property was quickly renamed “Land of the Vikings” (LOV), an intensive fund-drive, spearheaded by Sandy Ginsberg, the Third District’s Counselor, resulting in obtaining the initial money required.

On November 16, 1978, with a $40,000 down payment ($10,000 over the minimum required), the title was transferred to Sons of Norway -3/D Ltd., a newly-formed Corporation (the “owners” of the property) with the Third District Executive Committee as its Officers.

The Operating Corporation that had been formed - Sons of Norway, Land of the Vikings, Ltd. - with Brothers Kaare Hagen, Frank Tepper, Charles Gardner, and Kip Denega as its Officers, began running LOV on November 16, 1978, and signed a lease on that day with the owner, S/N-3/D Ltd.

Over the years the management of the Land of the Vikings has been entrusted to the LOV Operating Group (representing LOV, Ltd.) with its first Chairman - John Kaare Hagen, followed by Chairman Kjell Hansen, and in 1985 by Chairman Sandy Ginsberg. The resident full-time managers have been Nils and Lauren Floden, Stanley and Marta Bergesen, and Johnny and Kitty Delin, Charlie and Wenche Velilis, Bjarne and Louise Rasmussen, Jens and Elsie Kristiansen, Carl and Cass Kwan, and Beverly and Rick Budrick. Temporary managerial assistance was also received from Clara Johnsen, Bjorn and Lillian Bolstad, Richard and Judith Meadow and Walter and Clair Eriksen.

Additionally, and very importantly, there have been scores of members who have contributed their time, talents, and money to improve and upgrade LOV. It would have been impossible to achieve our present state of Land of the Vikings development had it not been for a legion of willing contributors - skilled craftsmen, many unskilled helpers, word engineers, cooks and bakers, accountants, planners, publicity representatives, homemakers, and so many others who willingly poured their hearts and love into our “Home Away from Home”.

A number of Zones, local Lodges, and individuals have enjoyed the peaceful surroundings and fellowship found at LOV. A variety of events such as skiing weekends, Unge Venner Conferences, Blind Sportsmen activities, District Board Meetings, Youth Camps, St. Hans Fests, Folk Dances, Festive Holiday events, Country Western Weekends, private weddings and other parties, Rosemaling Seminars, and many other affairs have been held at LOV.

The basic philosophy which has guided LOV was endorsed by the District Board on October 20, 1979 and is as follows:

“The primary purposes of the Land of the Vikings is for utilization and enjoyment of the Third District members, other S/N members and their guests. Secondly, all others are to be accommodated (insofar as practicable). This is in consonance with the requirements established by our Pennsylvania State LOV, Ltd. Charter.”

To the hundreds of Third District members who have participated by blood, sweat, and tears (and lots of joy too) to bring our dream into a great reality, you can be enormously proud that you leave to those who follow us a legacy that will be remembered and cherished for all time.