The rock destined to become the monument to mark the location of the first Finnish Methodist church in the United States was taken from the ground on Friday, March 14. The rock is now in storage, waiting for the next step.
Pastor Rick Edwards of the United Methodist Church in Moose Lake had heard several years ago that the first Finnish Methodist Church was established near Moose Lake in 1891. The actual site is west of Moose Lake at the intersection of Highway 27 and Walczak Road.
The log church building burned in the 1918 fire, and it was never rebuilt. The members of the congregation joined other churches in the area.
A group from the Methodist church and other interested people have been meeting for several months to plan to mark the site and gather as much history of the church and its congregation as possible.
The group came up with the idea of a monument made of local stone.
Dan Reed, who lives in Automba Township, told the group in recent meetings that he had found a stone near the shores of the Dead Moose River on Reed property that could be used for the monument. He had brought a sample of the gray granite stone to the February meeting of the group.
Reed enlisted the assistance of Dale Sandberg and others to dig the stone from its resting place. The operation took place on March 14.
After digging around the large stone with a backhoe, it was discovered that the stone was much larger than had first been thought. Sandberg estimated its weight at 20 tons. It was difficult to move and much too large for the monument.
That stone was abandoned and another large stone located just 10 feet away.
Sandberg dug out that stone, and it was found to have a pinkish color. It was estimated to weigh 5 to 7 tons, and was much easier to handle.
The first stone will be left in place and become a wildlife refuge in a small pond, after the area around it fills with water, said Reed.
The stone that was freed from the ground was loaded onto a heavy iron framework, called a scoot, and towed to a waiting tilt-bed truck. It was winched onto the truck bed, and then taken to a building on Sandberg's property for storage and to await the next step in the process.
Assisting in the project were Britt Sarvela, Wayne Gulso, Lawrence Lundin and Sam Huhta. Terry Sandberg brought the truck to haul the stone.
Reed thanked Dale Sandberg for the use of his equipment and the time that he spent on the project digging out the stones, and Terry Sandberg for hauling the stone.
He also thanked the others for their assistance in the project. Huhta will be creating a base for the stone when it is set in place at the site.
Tom Rozell of Superior Diamond Concrete Cutting will remove a slab from the stone to create a flat surface for the inscription.
It has been planned to dedicate the monument in a ceremony on Sunday afternoon, July 6. Reed also plans to present a production of his play, "When We Come to Cut the Grass" at the Moose Lake High School auditorium that same afternoon.
Watch for further details in the coming months.