Tobacco farming takes off in southern Wisconsin
Bekkedal Tobacco Warehouse
Yankee farmers from the eastern states introduced tobacco farming to Wisconsin in the 1830s. Norwegian immigrants in southern Wisconsin quickly adopted tobacco and passed on their knowledge to other settlers on their way to Vernon County. Although very labor intensive, tobacco raising was lucrative and proved to be very popular with Norwegian farmers in western Wisconsin. Tobacco cultivation was particularly intense in the Coon Valley and Westby areas. Martin H Bekkedal came to Vernon County from Norway in the 1880s and used his close contacts with fellow immigrants to become the largest tobacco wholesaler in the region by the turn of the century. The tobacco warehouse he built in Viroqua in 1906 was one of the largest and most modern in Wisconsin.