Norwegian Ridge was an early name for the area around Spring Grove, Minnesota. From the beginning of the immigration boom from Norway in the late 1850s, many settlers made their first American homes in this region.
In 1852, quite a number of Norwegians took land along the high ridges a short distance west, north and east of the present village of Spring Grove.
The ridge on which the best farms in Houston County are situated is a rather peculiar phenomenon. Between the Upper Iowa River and Root River, the valleys stretch into a wide and uneven plateau divided by gaps and slopes. Along the middle there rises a 12- to 15-mile-long, smooth, solid limestone outcropping a couple hundred feet above the plain. The top is flat and without a bush on it. The scraggly sides are forest-covered and watered by springs.
Up here the first Norwegians climbed up and clung hard to the tree groves by a brook. Here there was good soil for plowing on the flat and plenty of wood and water nearby along the slopes. Therefore, these tracts of land were the first to be occupied.
High up on this broad ridge, with a view extending 15 to 20 miles on both sides, lies the village of Spring Grove, perhaps the most thoroughly Norwegian town in the U.S.
— History of the Norwegian Settlements, by Hjalmar Rued Holand
Thousands of arriving Norwegians and their descendants established a historically significant immigrant community in the area between Norwegian Ridge and the Upper Iowa River, including parts of Houston, Winneshiek, and Allamakee Counties. Within this web site, “Norwegian Ridge” refers to this broader area.
Many thousands of Norwegian families established their American roots in the Norwegian Ridge area. As available land became more scarce, later immigrants and children of Norwegian Ridge settlers made up a new generation of pioneers that ventured west to claim 160 acres under the Homestead Act of 1862, often choosing farms along the Red River Valley. These new communities would, in turn, welcome the next generation of emigrants from Norway. (This map of Norwegian communities in the year 2000 census illustrates these areas nicely.)