Norskedalen Nature and Heritage Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the coulee region's natural environment and cultural heritage. Norskedalen is located near Coon Valley, in La Crosse, and Vernon Counties, Wisconsin, United States.
Norskedalen, which means “Norwegian Valley”, is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the natural environment and cultural heritage of the region. It began in 1977 as an outdoor laboratory and arboretum when Alf and Carroll Gundersen donated 112 acres (0.45 km2) to the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse Foundation. Since then Norskedalen has grown to include over 440 acres (1.8 km2) with 9 miles (14 km) of trails, restored pioneer log buildings from Norwegian immigrants of the late 1800s, and museums with exhibits featuring the natural and cultural heritages of the area.
The mission of Norskedalen is to preserve and interpret the natural environment and cultural heritage of the region, to make people aware of and sensitive to these resources and to provide educational opportunities at all levels through its arboretum, nature and heritage centers, and staff-both volunteer and professional.
Norskedalen includes two sites. The main site is three miles (5 km) north of Coon Valley, Wisconsin and open year-round. A total of 398 acres (1.61 km2) within Poplar Coulee of the Town of Washington, La Crosse county contains the Bekkum Homestead - a re-creation of a typical local pioneer farm at the turn of the century, the Thrune Visitor center with displays of pioneer and Norwegian immigrant artifacts as well as a hands-on nature display area, the Helga Gundersen Arboretum and the Paulsen Rental Cabin. The Helga Gundersen Arboretum is home to a bronze sculpture, Zerogee II, by sculptor Paul Granlund. The buildings of the Bekkum Homestead are furnished with artifacts of that time period and open for guided tours (audio, self, or volunteer) from May through October.
The other site is called Norskedalen Heritage Site, formerly the Skumsrud Heritage Farm, located 1⁄2-mile (0.80 km) west of Coon Valley, Wisconsin. It is a seasonal open-air museum which contains more than 11 historical buildings, including the 1853 Skumsrud Cabin, (listed on the National Register of Historic Places), and the Erickson School - the first schoolhouse of the area. Each building illustrates a slightly different construction style. This site is currently open for events or by appointment only due to a project in progress.