Sue’s Family at Tyinholmen


We arrived at Tyinholmen the evening of Tuesday, July 10th, having driven all day through tunnels, on ferries and mountainside roads.  We knew this place was in the Opdahl family for over 100 years and four generations.  I had seen pictures and heard stories from my mother but only understand it now.

It was located at the absolute end of the freshly black-graveled road.  It’s pronounced “tee-in-home-in.”

We walked in the front door and I introduced myself to the lady at the desk, telling her my mother was an  Opdahl before she got married and that my parents visited and stayed at Tyinholmen many years ago.  She said her name was Marie Skogstad and that her first husband was Ole Opdahl.

She told us to put away our Visa card, showed us to a room in the hotel, and asked if this would be okay.

It was more than okay.

Outside our window we saw our dirty little car and several cabins that are part of Tyinholmen.

Marie had said to come for dinner and so we did, out one door of the hotel into the front door of the hotel.

She set up a place for us near the window so we could see the mountains and the lake.  Our five-star dinner, made for us by Marie, featured lake trout, perfect in texture, drizzled with a delicious sauce and served with white baby potatoes, thinly sliced raw cucumbers, cooked slice carrots, and a bottle of wine which Marie recommended with the meal.  It was very very delicious.

The next morning Marie served us each two fried eggs with two strips of bacon laid across the top of them plus set out this elaborate food affair, probably the nicest breakfast buffet in all of Norway. 

And then we had a chance to talk.  First of all, Marie called a Service Station for us, to come out and fix our flat tire, which had found a sharp piece of stone on the newly black-graveled road.  I brought in my laptop computer and showed Marie pictures of Mom and other family members in my online album.  She remembered my mother, saw Mom’s picture and said, “Opdahl.”  She saw a picture of my brother Bernie, smiled, and said, “Ya, Opdahl.  Big and strong.”

Marie told us Tyinholmen is owned today by Helge Opdahl and Oystun Opdahl and then we walked through other parts of the beautiful hotel and ski lodge that is especially popular in the winter.  She said she had something to show us, some pictures on a wall.

Some of the novelties included cold cuts of ham, other meats, liver pate, pickled herring, salmon, a variety of brown and white cheeses, fruits and breads, jams and jellies, cereals hot and cold, fresh coffee, orange and apple juices.  It was beyond good.  Notice the candles and candelabra.

She pointed to the first generation of Opdahls (John and his wife Ragnhild) that owned Tyinholmen.  (John’s parents were Helge and Berit T.)  The photo is dated 1908.  John and Ragnhild (Olsdotter) married in 1878.  John is the youngest brother of Trond, Helge, and Anders who came to Minnesota and are featured in Robert Lee’s book entitled, Fever Saga.  Below the photo of John and Ragnhild is a picture of the first Tyinholmen hotel that burned down.  The hotel was rebuilt at least twice.  John established Tyinholmen as early as 1892.  It was in this area that mountain tourism started in Norway.

The next picture is of the next generation of owners, Helge (eldest son of John and Ragnhild) and Berit A. Opdahl.  The photo is dated 1953.  Helge and Berit (Andersdotter) married in 1906.  According to the Tyinholmen book, as a little boy Helge rowed Lake Tyin twice a day from Tyinholmen to the headlands and back, out at 8 a.m. and not returning until 10 p.m.  He was a mountain guide at a young age.

                 Also in the Tyinholmen book we read that Helge Opdahl “was a particularly competent farmer who had broken up a lot of new ground.  He drove away incredibly much rock all winters.  In 1960 he got a diploma from the Oppland Agricultural Society.  But he is most famously a mountaineer and hotelier.  He had an innate ability to take care of their guests at Tyinholmen.  They called it the ‘best host hotel.’  All felt at home in Tyinholmen.  It was always full of people in both summer and Easter.  Helge received the King’s Medal of Merit in gold for his groundbreaking work to enable traffic.  He was the first in this country who received this award for his work in this area … Helge enjoyed caribou hunting.  He shot over 250 wild caribou.”

                 We also read in this history of Tyinholmen, “Many famous people and great personalities have visited Tyinholmen over the years.  Among the most famous are the composer Edvard Grieg, mountaineer Cecil Slingsby, painter Erik Werenskiold, and poet Aasmund Olafson Vinje.  Norway’s last three kings have also visited Tyinholmen.”

I didn’t take a close-up of that third picture (off the right edge of this photo), but it was of John and Kari Opdahl, the third generation of owners.  John and Kari (Andersdotter Skogstad) married in 1933.  John, who was born in 1906, died in 1982.  The photo is dated 1960.  My mom and dad said they met John Opdahl when they visited Norway several years ago.

                 The fourth generation that owned (owns) Tyinholmen is Helge and Anne Karine Opdahl.  Helge and Ann Karine (Bakken) married in 1966.  They had no children.  Today Helge is 75 years old and lives in Oye.  We didn’t get a chance to see him.  His nephew Oystun Opdal is 42 years old.

Marie Skogstad told me that Ole Opdahl’s grandmother was also a Marie Skogstad, who was a sister of Kari [Skogstad] Opdahl, John’s wife.  As Marie said, “Skogstad and Opdahl, Opdahl and Skogstad, all the same.  Opdahls married Skogstads.”  The families have been marrying each other for generations like families of Ghent and Minneota, Minnesota.

And so we’re all family!  Marie, age 69, has four children, a daughter with Ole Opdahl, and two daughters and a son with her second husband.  She has six grandchildren.  One of her daughters and husband live in China for five years, then will come back home to Norway.  Another of her daughters is a professor at the University of Oslo who will hopefully translate the Tyinholmen book for me and Mom.

Goodbye, Tyinholmen.  Thank you, Marie, for your hospitality.  Hope to see you in Minnesota some time.

The flat tire was fixed and I took a couple more pictures as we drove away.  If it had been a sunny day, there might have been people eating breakfast outside.   It was 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, July 11th.

Goodbye, Lake Tyin.  (It’s pronounced “tee-in.”)  I can see young Helge rowing across it.

Goodbye, Lake Tyin mountains.  I can see Helge shooting caribou up there.

A short distance down the road, before Oye, I saw a family name on a sign at the entrance to a farm, and I recognized the name Hermundstad as the last name of the people we had barely and briefly met back in 1997 at Mom and Dad’s farm at Ghent, MN.  We drove right past it, but I had Allan turn around and go back so I could ask if they knew a Helge and Kari Hermundstad.

I rang the doorbell and when the man came to the door, I showed him my notebook and pointed at one of the names and asked, in English, of course, “Do you know this person?”  He replied, “Yes, that is my wife.”  “And this one?” I asked.  He replied, “That is me.”

It was all pretty amazing, sort of like a miracle.  If I had been looking the other way, I would have missed the sign that said Hermundstad.  Helge and Kari invited us into their home and couldn’t believe we were just passing through and couldn’t stay a few days.  In the picture above, Helge showed us a bear he shot.  There’s another bear—a rug — near the entry.

Kari served us coffee and lefseklinge, which is her specialty, a Norwegian dessert that she makes and sells at fair and shops.  It consists of three layers of lefse rolled into a large cookie sheet, one at a time, and layered with brown cheese, heavy butter, sweet cream and sugar, then rolled one time over and sliced.    It was sweetly delicious with satisfying chewiness.

Then Helge figured out how we’re related.  He’s pointing here to Anna Opdahl, who grew up to marry Peter Hermundstad and become his great Grandmother Anna Hermundstad.  It looks from the photo like Anna’s parents are John and Ragnhild Opdahl, first generation of owners at Tyinholmen.  Anna’s uncles were therefore the Trond, Helge, and Anders Opdahl who came to Minneota, Minnesota, in 1871.

                 Helge Hermundstad told us about old John Opdahl, the youngest brother of those who emigrated to Minnesota.  He told us that John Opdahl, in fact, went to America also, but only for four years — to make some money, and then he went back to Norway and built a hotel.  John had been farming but an avalanche of rocks destroyed his place.  With no income, he went to America to make some money.  It took four years.

If I’ve got it figured out correctly, the great great grandfather of Helge (John Opdahl) and the great great grandfather of me (John’s brother Helge Opdahl who came to America) are brothers.  When Helge Hermundstad was figuring things out for us in Norway, I believe he got it wrong — partly because there are so many Helge’s and John’s, not to mention a lot of Berit’s and Marie’s!  (This means that caption in the August 2012 issue of the Gazette is incorrect.  We had missed one generation of greats.)

Helge said he helped author Robert Lee identify some photos in Fever Saga and looked for the book on his shelves.  He brought out, instead, a book all in Norwegian entitled “Riksraid Paal Eriksens aett I Valdres” published in 1962 that showed the Opdahls (Opdals) traced back to Ireland in the 1200’s.  One of the relatives was the ruler king over a little island located above Norway.

                 Another author in their library is Lorna Landvik, who is desended from Amy T. Opdahl, a descendant of Anders.  Two of her books are The View from Mount Joy and Oh My Stars.  Lorna Landvik has visited Helge and Kari Hermundstad.

Kari showed us pictures of her and Helge’s family.  They have two children, a son and a daughter, four grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.  One of their granddaughters rides and shows horses. 

They showed us a beautiful tablecloth that came from Helge’s great Aunt Ingeborg Opdahl in America, who lived in Minneota and was married to Nils Myhre.

Helge said he was born on this farm where he lives, that he’s the fourth generation of Hermundstads on the farm, that his great great grandfather bought the place from private people back in 1865.  Helge said when he and Kari visited Minneota, Minnesota, in 1997, they visited my mom and dad at Ghent and they also visited my Uncle Harold Opdahl, Jr., who was in the nursing home at that time, having fallen off a ladder when he was cutting in a tree.

The front entry of Kari and Helge’s home is decorated with a handcarved painted hames and a bell and other old family artifacts.

Helge, born in 1947 like Allan and me, retired from farming because of his bad back.  He’s got six large metal pins in his back and just had them replaced recently.  He showed us the old ones; they’re about two inches long and a quarter inch in diameter.  Helge raised sheep and has much land in the mountains, and he raised a cow for meat, not for milking. 

They grow very big strawberries in their back yard …

… and a very big garden in general.

A rushing mountain stream flows next to their backyard and the nearby mountains.  It couldn’t be more scenic.  They said they also have a home in the mountains and they wanted us to go visit there and stay with them for a couple days.

Allan and I thought this home was in the mountains.  Their backyard is landscaped with slate and rock and belongs in a home and garden magazine.  I didn’t get a picture of their spacious backyard deck.

Now it was time to say goodbye.  We had visited nearly three hours and time went by fast.  We needed to get to Oslo, drop off our rental car, and catch a train to Stockholm.  Thank you, Helge and Kari, for your wonderful hospitality.  Maybe we’ll get to see you again.

Mom had told us that the church cemetery in Oye, just down the road, was full of Opdahls.  She was right.