Film Chronicles Stories of Maine's Swedish Immigrants. Listen to the interview with Dan Olson and Brenda Jepson from MPBN radio 4/15/11
116 Station Road
PO Box 33
New Sweden, ME, 04762
Carolyn Hildebrand firstname.lastname@example.org
280 Main Street
Stockholm, ME 04783
John & Rosemary Hede
1149 New Sweden Rd.
Woodland, ME 04736
When the first Swedes arrived in the undeveloped woods of Northern Maine they brought their skis. It was a sport and mode of practical transportation almost entirely unknown to New England. Well into this century kids in New Sweden skied miles to get to school and adults hopped on their skis to work, shop, or visit all winter long. Shirley Sjosted, curator of the Stockholm Museum even showed me a "convertible carriage"--one that goes on wheels or skis. A plaque at the museum hangs in recognition of New Sweden's contribution for bringing skiing to the United States.
As skiing spread across Maine in the early 20th century, New Sweden became known for its highest quality ski makers. And in the 1920's, when Maine communities began organizing Winter Carnivals, residents of the Swedish Colony were always top racing competitors.
Although he skied as a youngster, lifelong New Sweden resident Ralph Ostlund didn't start racing until age 55. At nearly 80 he's still racing. Judging by the number of trophies and ribbons in his trophy room, the late start didn't hurt him too much. He says skiing was in his family as long as he can remember. His father made the kid's skis and the whole family were ski jumpers. "My brother Buck used to ski the Bangor to Caribou Marathon [in the 1930's] which was real serious, about 180 miles," he proudly recalls.
Referring to New Sweden he says, "We had an athletic club and we always had some of the best skiers in the area. We'd compete against other clubs and each other. New Sweden was proud of their ski team because they won a lot of carnivals and they bought the club white ski suits."
Ralph has seen the technology of skiing go from homemade wood skis with leather or "rat-trap" bindings to fiberglass skis with highly technical waxing techniques. He remembers when "they used to have wide skis and only one pole so that they could get work done on their skis. And then my wife and I skied with the kids for fun. And then I got into racing and waxing and I go on trips to Quebec or wherever I can."
Maybe it's because he has witnessed the progression of skiing as an American sport that he readily acknowledges respect for some of the younger racers he sees out there on the trail. He says "I don't know if they're any tougher than they used to be. But there are some really good skiers now. Of course the equipment is better and they learn skate racing earlier. But there are really good skiers around."
At the same time it's evident that Ralph sometimes misses the atmosphere
of the 1930's when Winter Carnivals and skiing in New Sweden were at their
peak. He says "That was great fun," and speculates, "It was so popular
because there wasn't a lot of money around for people to do other things.
And everyone skied at home. And the sport wasn't so expensive or complicated."
Report on Discovery Research Fieldwork in the Swedish Colony by Matthew Shippee Contractor, Maine Arts Commission, Traditional Arts Division June, 2001. (413) 628-0159 email@example.com. This report was funded in part by a grant from The Maine Arts Commission, the New Century Community Program, and the National Endowment of the Arts, a federal agency. The New Century Community Program is a collaborative initiative of seven cultural organizations providing matching grants and technical assistance to Maine communities. Funded by the people of Maine, the program seeks to assist towns in developing their cultural and educational resources