The Barberg-Selvälä-Salmonson Sauna, Cokato, 2016. [Source:]

“Sauna has been practiced for centuries in Finland, and Finnish immigrants to the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries did not want to leave sauna behind.

“Often, the first structure they built on their new rural property was a sauna, which they could live and bathe in while they built their other farm buildings. That was the case with the Barberg-Selvälä-Salmonson sauna in Cokato, Minnesota — the oldest savusauna, or smoke sauna, still existing in Minnesota and likely in the United States.

“Finns first came to Cokato in 1865, looking for available farmland. Three Finnish families — the Barbergs (also known as the Barbas), Selväläs, and Salmonsons — were among the town’s earliest settlers, moving onto their adjoining homesteads by 1868. That year, the families agreed to build a shared savusauna along the property line between the Barberg and Selvälä farms.”

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