Koli as Part of the Settlement by Lake Pielinen
In the Stone Age (8000 – 1900 B.C.), people obtained food by hunting and gathering. Dating from that prehistoric era, the Koli National Park boasts trapping pits, fragments produced by the working of stone objects and dwelling sites on the lake shores. There are no finds from the intermediate era until the 17th century when people from the Vuonislahti village started hunting and carrying out slash-and-burn farming at Koli. There was no permanent settlement in the current national park's area until the mid-18th century.
Living on the Bounties of Nature
When settling at Koli, people made their living how they could, i.e., they lived on the bounties of surrounding nature. In order to make a living, slash-and-burn farming was complemented by cattle keeping, hunting and fishing. At the end of the 18th century, each house was allowed to slash and burn 1.5 hectares annually. The cattle did not graze in the field but roamed freely in the forest. The oldest of the clearings and yards in the Koli National Park date to the 1750s. Along with settlement, the slash-and-burn lands and the use of forest, the wooded hill scenery opened out and later became a famous national landscape. There have been several attempts to utilise the riches in the Koli bedrock. The Herajoki copper smelter, the kyanite mines and the test mines for uranium reached varying results.
National Romanticism Made Koli Famous among Finns
Koli received visitors throughout the 19th century. The main route to Koli was Lake Pielinen, and the harbour, until the road was completed in 1913. Actual tourism started after the author Juhani Aho had visited Koli and written about it. At first, even the most famous guests stayed at village farms but in the 1890s, the accommodation activities were taken up at Ylämaja and Alamaja by an association named Suomen Matkailijayhdistys. The Koli views have inspired artists for the past 150 years and the hills are still a source of inspiration for many artists.