History

The birth of Värriö Research Station dates back to year 1966. On a dark and sombre November evening, three men sought respite from the cold in the Puitsi fell wilderness cabin located on the border to Russia in the municipality of Salla. One of them was Erkki Pulliainen, a biologist and a researcher at the University of Helsinki at the time (and who later went on to become a lecturer in game biology, a professor of zoology at the University of Oulu and a long-time member of the Finnish parliament). Two others were border guards, working as assistants to Pulliainen at the time. As the evening carried on, one of the border guards, 2nd Lieutenant Martti Laitinen, spoke the words, that are said to be at the origin of the idea for the station: "Wouldn't it be a wonderful idea for the university and Border Guards to build together a research station here up in the far Northeast", he said. Pulliainen agreed.

The higher echelons in the Border Guard and the Defence Forces also supported the idea. And so did the representatives from Metsähallitus, the government organization in charge of state owned forests in Finland. Therefore, in the following months, Erkki Pulliainen made the necessary proposals needed for setting up the research station and officially proposed the idea to the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry in the University of Helsinki. The costs of setting up the station would be minimal for the University. Metsähallitus would give the required logs and timber and the Border Guards would build it free of cost. The University accepted the proposal in 1967.

The plan was put in effect the same year. General Koppinen from the Border Guard had suggested, that the station would be built in the proximity of a small lake, lake Kuutsjärvi, in the northern end of the Värriö fell range. As the construction could only be done during the short summer months, the Border Guards transported all the required construction material with a snow tractor during winter from the closest winter-accessible road at the time, 44 km away. Then as the snow melted, the construction began under the supervision of the head of the Border Guards in the region, Aaro Valtonen. The main building and the sauna were finished by the beginning of August the same summer. Finally, on the 13th of August 1967, Erkki Pulliainen together with his research assistants, border guards and VIPs held the initiation ceremony, that now landmarks the birth of the station. The 50th anniversary of Värriö Subarctic Research Station were celebrated far into night under the aurora borealis on the 17th August 2017.