On September 11-12, 1912, the little town of Ellsworth hosted the Hardanger Laget - an annual gathering of immigrants from Hardanger, Norway. Founded in 1911, the Lag ("Society") was just in its second year in 1912. Hosting so many people was a challenge for such a small town. But as the Jewell newspaper observed, the automobile, which was still a relatively recent technological advancement for rural communities, made it possible to house the visitors in "homes at a distance." The photograph gives evidence of the prestige that town bands enjoyed at this time by the fact that the band members are positioned front and center.
The site of the photograph is visible from Interstate 35. While driving over the Highway 175 overpass at the Ellsworth exit (Exit 133), look to the west. The meeting site was in the field located just south of the highway, between the convenience store and the long, low barn, which seems to be the only remaining structure from the 1912 image.
The Jewell Record, Thursday, September 12, 1912
Hardangers at Ellsworth
Yesterday and today are "Hardanger Days" at Ellsworth, and the most of southeastern Hamilton county is filled up with the Harrings. The town of Ellsworth is simply swamped. Homes in Jewell, Randall and Radcliffe and country homes in all the surrounding territory are entertaining the visitors who are here for the big meeting. The committees have done their work well and made no distance limit in arranging for entertainment. Autos make it possible to entertain in homes at a distance the immense crowds that are here. It is impossible yet to even estimate the number, but it is evident that it will at least equal expectations.