A sign reading “Velkommen” greets travelers arriving in Clifton, nestled in rolling hills 35 miles northwest of Waco. The word means “welcome” in Norwegian, the home country of the immigrants who founded this community in the mid-1800s.
Back then, Cleng Peerson, dubbed the “father of Norwegian immigration to America,” helped thousands of settlers find new homes in the Bosque River valley. More than 100 years later in 1997, the Texas Legislature designated Clifton the “Norwegian Capital of Texas.”
The Norse influence pervades Clifton’s architecture with decorative trim on wooden homes, painted floral folk designs known as “rosemaling” on dishes and other items in downtown shops, and in Norwegian celebrations, such as Norwegian Country Christmas. Held annually on the first weekend of December, the event includes a lighted parade, historical homes tour, and arts and crafts at Heritage Village.
Clifton’s setting among limestone bluffs along the…