Saturday, June 27, 2015

Last day in Norway -- Norsk Folkemuseum

Gol Stave Church at the Folk Museum

The day before we were to leave it was agreed that Alf would pick us up the next morning and take us from Eldbjørg’s home in Evje og Hornnes to the airport at Krisitiansand.  From there we left on a small plane very early in the morning and had one day and night in Oslo before moving on to Vienna, Austria for the rest of our trip.  The result of such a short stay in Oslo meant careful consideration concerning what we could see and do in such a limited time frame.  Bob really wanted to see the Viking Ship Museum (see the Thursday postcard #154, from 7 August 2014) and I wanted to visit the open-air Folk Museum that I had not been able to see the last time I visited Norway all those years ago.  Both were located close together a short boat trip away from the city center and we thought it would offer the most sightseeing opportunity for one day.  The harbor was some distance from our hotel; however, we are used to walking and the walk would also give us more opportunity to see other parts of the city. 

It was too early to check into our room but the hotel staff kindly offered to let us leave our bags there while we went off for a day of sightseeing.  We noticed a lot of activity near the harbor and later discovered that a huge Rock concert was scheduled for that evening.  The entire area was crowded with people and loud music by the time we returned at the end of the day!

 Street scenes from the hotel to the harbor

 Stortinget where Norway's National Assembly meets

 The boat we took to the island.  It was roomy inside and had seats for lots of tourists with plenty of big windows to look out.

Akershus, Norway's best preserved castle from the middle ages

It was a beautiful sunny warm day and the boat ride to Bygdøy where the museums are located was pleasant.  The Norsk Folkemuseum was founded in 1894 by Hans Aall and is a showcase of how our ancestors lived and worked many years ago.  There are 155 historic buildings dating from the middle ages onward.  It is about a 1/2 mile walk from the boat landing to the museum.

The grounds are divided into sections with examples of the houses and activities for each region of Norway represented.  Docents in costume are available at each site ready to explain, take photos, visit, and even give short lectures for tours.  In addition to the farmsteads and countryside examples there are also city streets and apartment buildings that have been reconstructed to provide an idea of what life was like.  We did not take a formal tour but bought a booklet and did our own private walking tour of the grounds.   

Gol Stave Church was taken apart and reassembled on the museum grounds

Probably the most impressive building we came upon after entering the museum grounds was the reconstructed Gol Stave church from Hallingdal. The interior of the church was dark; however, we did get a few photos.  Two girl docents wearing traditional folk costumes were there to answer questions and posed for pictures when asked.  Many of the young people acting as docents were students at the nearby university.

The pictures below show the streets, farmsteads and a few interior photos from various buildings.  

 Not wallpaper but Rosemaling on the wooden walls.  Very beautiful.

Below a very old primitive Lapp or Sami dwelling house made of sod and sticks.

The Norsk Folkemuseum is a fantastic place to visit.  It could easily take all day or more than one day to see everything.   Our choice to walk most everywhere was the correct one for us.  We saw so much more of the city in the short time we had than we could have done otherwise.  We also took opportunities to talk with local people, ask directions and questions about what was going on when we couldn't figure it out.  


This beautiful sailing ship (also carrying tourists) coming into the harbor as we returned from our day at the museums.

On the walk back to the hotel we passed the Rock Concert venue, a brass band playing by a park, the Royal Palace, and other interesting places.

Large sign advertising the Rock Concert

 Brass band

Two views of the park and pond

The Royal Palace

Thursday, June 25, 2015

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 200

Boardwalk, Atlantic City, New Jersey, ca 1907

The picture on this vintage 1907 postcard is of the boardwalk at Atlantic City, New Jersey, which today is mostly lined with large hotels and casinos but was at that time primarily a resort and health spa.  Rolling chairs made of wicker, some with canopies, and similar to a Rickshaw that attendants push up and down the boardwalk were introduced in the 1800s are still popular.  Two are visible at the lower right side of the picture.  Horse drawn buggies can be seen in the background on the beach.  Beginning in 1882 the boardwalk has been home to several piers like the one at the upper right side and today there is still an amusement pier across from the Trump Taj Mahal. 

Logo of the Metropolitan New Company, Boston, Massachusetts

The Metropolitan News Company (MNC) of Boston, Massachusetts, a major postcard company from 1905 to 1916, published cards in color, black and white, sepia, hand tinted in full and half-tones.  Focusing on views of the Northeastern United States, mostly New England, the postcards were printed in Germany.  The company name and MNC logo, seen enlarged above, is found on some of the cards produced by this company and can be found at the upper left on the reverse side of the card.  This particular postcard is a used card and has suffered some crease damage as well as a broken corner but I liked it mostly because of all the people.  The clothing styles and other details in cards like this help to bring the past to life.

Dr. Jonathan Pitney came to this site on Absecon Island off the Jersey Shore on the Atlantic Ocean in 1819 to set up a medical practice after being convinced that the climate and water were ideal for a health resort.  Today he is known as the Father of Atlantic City.  It was interesting to note that the message on the reverse of the card says in part:  "Came down here yesterday with a patient. . ." 


The first boardwalk was constructed in 1870 to help hotel owners keep sand out of their lobbies.  The walk was taken up at the end of the season each year.   The Camden and Atlantic Railroad provided rail service to Atlantic City beginning in 1854, the same year the city was incorporated.  It became such a popular destination that by 1874 approximately 500,000 passengers a year were using the train to come to Atlantic City.  As the resort became more popular, more hotels were built and Pitney, together with entrepreneur Samuel Richards, encouraged the building of a second railroad line that would take visitors and patients to the beach.   That rail line was completed in 1877.  A building boom started during the early 1900s with many smaller boarding houses being replaced by large hotels.  The boardwalk was extended and today extends 5 ½ miles from Absecon Inlet to the north to Ventnor City in the southwest.  

The Prohibition years, 1919-1933, saw backroom illegal gambling, organized crime and liquor sales.  A noted racketeer and political boss of that era was Enoch L. "Nucky" Johnson who was said to have had an income of $500,000 a year during the Golden Age of Atlantic City in the 1920s.  Following World War II there was an economic downturn with an increase in poverty, crime, corruption and general decline.  Fast, cheap air service offered people access to other resorts such as Miami, Florida and the Bahamas.  In an effort to revitalize the city a referendum was passed in 1976 approving legalized casino gambling for Atlantic City.  Since then some hotels converted to casino/hotels and several more casinos have been built.  This did not immediately solve the problems but today Atlantic City is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States.

The Miss America Pageant begun in 1921 started in Atlantic City.
The properties on the Parker Brothers board game “Monopoly” are named for places in and near Atlantic City.
A popular feature introduced by William “Doc” Carver in the early 20th century, horse diving was held at the Steel Pier.  The Steel Pier also had novelty attractions such as the Diving Bell, human high divers, and a water circus. 

For more information, please see:,_New_Jersey

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Evje, Norway -- stones and mounds

Galtelandssteinen or Evjesteinen
While we were visiting Evje og Hornnes, Norway last summer one of the places Alf took us was the old Nickel Works down by the Otra River near Fennefoss.  The standing stones shown in the photo above caught our eyes and we stopped to walk around and read the placards explaining about the site.  The stones are replicas of the original stones that were moved to the University of Oslo.  The original central stone dates from about 1016 and was on the Galteland farm for approximately 700 years.  It was surrounded by eight smaller stones.  It is called the Galteland stone (Galtelandssteinen) or the Evje Stone (Evjesteinen).  

Runes on the large standing stone

The runes are most likely some of the oldest ever found from around the time Christianity came to Norway (1000 AD).  The inscription faced the southeast.  A rough translation:  “Arnstein erected this stone in memory of Bjør his son who lost his life when Canute was defeated in battle in England.  There is only one God.”  Canute the Great set out from Agder in 1016.

Another large stone with the date 1872 stands just outside the ring of stones. 

As we continued walking down toward the river we noticed something else interesting.  Looking back up the hill we realized that the hill was a mound or part of a mound similar to the Conus Mound in the Mound Cemetery, Marietta Ohio.  

Map on the information placard showing the positions of the old mounds

There was a map or diagram on a placard showing the placement of 45 mounds dating from the Roman Iron Age (0-300/400 AD).  The one we had walked down and around is known as the King’s Mound.  It was the largest mound and is the only mound still easy to see.   Most of the other mounds were destroyed or obscured by the industrial activity at the Evje Nickel Smelter.  The King’s Mound, 30 meters in diameter (98 feet) and 2.5 meters high (8 feet), is probably the oldest with the smaller mounds placed later around it and eastward.  The majority of the mounds were round with just six as oblongs instead of circles.  The King’s Mound had a small depression around it just like the moat surrounding the Conus Mound in Marietta.  Results of excavations show that both men and women were buried here.  Some ceramics were found in the graves also.    Today law protects the remaining mounds.  Below are some pictures showing the King's Mound and surroundings.

The last picture shows Fennefoss the rapids in the river near the mounds.

It would be interesting to learn if any of the Norwegian cousins know more about the standing stones or the mounds.