Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thoughts on a Log Sauna

An historic sauna in Sebeka, MN.
What's in a log sauna? Much of the history of building with logs traces back to Northern Europe, and especially to the nation of Finland. Finnish craftsmen brought their art to the New World and we still see many of their structures scattered throughout the northern lake states. Hand-in-hand with log cabins and homes, the Finns brought with them their saunas. The idea of a sauna isn't completely unique to Finland; many other Scandinavian and other Europe nations have similar traditions.

Many non-European cultures have similar baths, such as the Native American sweat lodges. Nonetheless, saunas seem to be a particular highlight of the Finnish culture, and as a result the regions of their settlement are speckled with saunas old and new. Rumor has it the sauna was the most important structure to Finnish immigrants, and therefore the first building to be erected when settling on some new acreage. Here in Northern Minnesota, the author is constantly encountering people who have discovered, purchased, or inherited century old log structures and many appear to be built as saunas.

From Native American sweat lodges to Turkish baths to Scandinavian saunas, no matter what cultural tradition one heralds we can all appreciate a great a log sauna and the rich history that sizzles from its stones. A log sauna is an affordable structure that is a great option for those who aren't in a position for a full log home; the smell of cedar and comfort of wood are all synthesized to make a log sauna the perfect place for relaxation for anyone.

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