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Danish Colony in California: Solvang 1911–2014

November 1, 2014 from 7:30pm

The Danish-American colony of Solvang, which means “sunny field,” was founded in 1911. After an extensive search, a group of Danish educators purchased nearly 9,000 acres in the Santa Ynez Valley, part of an original Mexican land grant. It was an ideal location with fertile land, a flowing river, oak-dotted hills and a mild climate. Followers of a folk school movement in Denmark, they strove to preserve their culture while assimilating into their new home in the West. Settlers donated land for a permanent folk school, and in 1914 Atterdag College (translated “there’ll be another day”) was built on a hill overlooking town.

Solvang grew quickly and prospered as Danish entrepreneurs supplied the growing community with goods and services. Young Danish Americans were taught in English and Danish. In the 1940s and 1950s, tourists began arriving, and the town’s outward appearance transformed to display the cultural roots of its residents. Wild, open rangeland with grazing cattle and sheep gave way to dry farming and dairies and to the irrigated fields of today, including vast vineyards and horse ranches.

In an illustrated presentation, Esther Jacobsen Bates, executive director of the Elverhøj Museum of History and Art, will describe the history and development of Solvang from its early days to the popular destination of today.

For information, contact Howard Rockstad at 805-497-3717.


Event Details

  • Organizer/Sponsor: Scandinavian American Cultural and Historical Foundation and the History Department
  • Starts: November 1, 2014 7:30pm
  • Price: $0.00
  • Location: Roth Nelson Room at California Lutheran University, 60 West Olsen Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360
  • Website:
  • Sponsors: Scandinavian American Cultural and Historical Foundation and the History Department