The Norlund Chapel

Who would have thought that a town named Emo would have something so jolly? Just look at this preposterousness.

Did it have its own parking lot? Yes. A door? Yes. An unlocked door? Yes! This is a real, legitimate, thing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMercifully, the church had a binder with notes and pictures detailing its history and thereby disproving my initial assumption that it was built by gnomes.

The steeple was originally part of Emo’s St. Patrick’s Church, which was struck by lightning and burnt to the ground. The steeple and cross had collapsed into the blaze but were salvaged by Emo resident Elmer Norlund. As I read it “Here begins the story of the steeple which lost its church.” Elmer and his wife Teresa (nee Armstrong) briefly considered building a windmill with it but settled on building a small chapel instead. Which is for the best because who wants to deal with the burden of constantly shooing away Don Quixote? In 1973 Elmer and his friend Ed Sletmoen of Rainy River got started by building a scale model and in August 1973 the Norlund Chapel opened its doors. Around 7,000 signatures were recorded in the guest book during its first year of “business” (the prayin’ business!) and one can speculate that many people were curious looky-loos like myself but a great many more were hoping to have a tiny moment with their god.

I revelled in the special kind of enjoyment I get when I discover that a regular-sized thing has a tiny adorable counterpart. There were even tiny prayer books inside. The intimate setting is hard to resist an once inside you really do feel like it was built just for you.

Elmer passed away in August 2003. He was 83 years old and had looked after the chapel for 30 years. These days Elmer’s daughter Joanne Norlund-Carroll owns the surrounding farmland and has been taking care of the church, and Elmer’s legacy, since 2004.

Elmer Norlund

Just how tiny is it?
Steeple height: 20 or 36 feet (there was conflicting info…)
Chapel dimensions: 10 feet by 8 feet