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First Icelandic Church


During the late 1800s, harsh weather and economic hardships caused a famine in Iceland, and many Icelanders migrated to Canada. Some of those ended up homesteading in northeastern Dakota Territory near the already settled area around Pembina.

The Icelanders formed congregations that first met in homes or schools, but gradually they were able to build eight churches for their worship meetings.

The Icelanders’ present-day ancestors have a deep appreciation for their unique heritage, but because of sparse population, the rural nature of the churches and limited resources, several of those original churches were in danger of being lost. So several congregations banded together, and seven of the eight churches have been saved. The one in Mountain, the Vikur Lutheran Church, was established in 1884 and is the oldest Icelandic church in the United States.

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm