Saariselkä History -page tells you about Saariselkä making its first steps as the travellers’ paradise.
Fabilious sceneries over the fells opening from the Kaunispää arctic hill to the East has always fascinated travellers. The natural development for the area was to create accommodation and other services for travellers. That was the beginning of the history of Saariselkä village.
The first hut
The first “hut” owned by the Finnish Travel Association started functioning in the gorge between Kaunispää and Urupää hills in March 1949.
This hut has an interesting history. At first the building was allocated somewhere close to Rovaniemi and it was hold as a military canteen by Germans during WWII.
Later the hut was moved to Rovaniemi where it served as a bakery for the Pohjanhovi Hotel, which was rasing up from ashes after the war. Probably the building also accommodated hotel’s guests before the hotel itself was built up properly.
And finally it was moved to Saariselkä. The hut stopped functioning in late 60´s but only in 1984 the building was demolished.
The first building
The first building project on the top of Kaunispää hill was the Fell Hut for the Children´s Friends of Lapland in 1950, if not take into account the fire watchman’s hut.
The timber was already transported to the top, but the whole project stopped when found out that it was not possible to get water up there.
The project continued when Lapland´s Tourist Association bought the timber and in 1952 a gorgeous 2-storied timber building appeared on the top of Kaunispää fell.
Since then Kaunispään Huippu has developed. Nowadays there are Restaurant and Souvenir shop. And Tourists can go up to the summit by car or by chair lift instead of walking or skiing.
Recovering from tuberculosis
The Children´s Friends of Lapland were looking for a new place for recovering from tuberculosis kids.
They found it to the South of Kaunispää arctic hill by the river Luttojoki, where the Laanila lodge was built in 1953. It is just the same spot where the Santa´s Hotel Tunturi is situated nowadays. The lodge served as children´s camping site in summer. Hikers and travellers also used the lodge all year round.
The Children’s Friends’ of Lapland Association was advertised in January 1954 as follows: “Dormitory in spacious rooms with spring-based, iron bunk beds and electric light. The sauna is warming up every day. ”
Building was destroyed in fire in 1958. Only 3 buildings were left. One of them is still standing by river Luttojoki. Just the same hut “Luttotupa”, which one passes while cross-country skiing in Saariselkä.
- In 1960´s new modern accommodation lodges and restaurants were built on the same place by the river Luttojoki.
- With the insurance money the Children´s Friends of Lapland built a new mordern hotel in Laanila, which got its present name of Laanihovi in 1961. The new hotel’s surroundings got soon new cabins mostly for the Finnish companies staff retreat.
- The road to Kiilopää was built in 1963 and already next year the training center started operating.
- The first post office was opened on the top of Kaunispää on the 1st of May 1956 and in Saariselkä only on the 1st of December 1959.
The increase in the number of hikers in the UK National Park brought challenges
The number of hikers grew rapidly at the turn of the 1950s and 1960s and it also brought with it problems. Nature conservation, littering, shelter maintenance, use of trails, snowmobiles, disturbance of reindeer during the vaso period.
These are just a few examples of topics that sparked discussions and aroused interest throughout Finland.
1969 was important year in Saariselkä history
Development of Saariselkä as the travellers’ center started only in 1969 with the common meeting when a plan for development was presented.