by Kelly Mitchell,
Ada County Historic Preservation Council
Beginning in the mid-1890s Finnish settlers began immigrating to Idaho. This wave of Finnish immigration was concentrated in Long Valley – the high mountain valley stretching from the southern end of Payette Lake to Smith’s Ferry. Most Finns in Long Valley had originally emigrated out of their homeland in the 1880s heading for the mines or woods of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota, many later relocating to Oregon and Wyoming where they likely heard of the free Homestead Act land in Idaho from other Finnish immigrants. They may have also heard that the Long Valley landscape resembled Finland’s. These early settlers established a village of fellow Finns in Long Valley known as Elo, named by Lutheran Pastor William Eloheimo who used a shortened version of his surname as the village name. Other predominately Finnish towns in the Valley included Waino, Lake Fork, and Norwood. Of these only Lake Fork remains.
Courtesy of the New York Public Library Digital Gallery