Assessment of the Viking

On November 10, 2007 the Viking ship was professionally examined and evaluated inside and out, from stem to stern.

Howard Wellman, a conservator of archaeological materials who has done shipwreck archaeology, and Robert Fink, a boat builder, examined the ship. Their entire day was spent skillfully measuring, carefully probing, busily photographing and, copiously taking notes. Mr. Wellman’s report provided recommendations for arresting any deterioration and for the repair and preservation of this historic ship.

Roger Machin of Methods and Materials assessed the current situation and made recommendations for improving both the shelter and support of the Viking.

A committee of local and Chicago-area citizens banded together to launch this rescue mission for the ship, to stabilize the structure and to preserve it for future generations. In the short term, a substantial contribution from the Kane County Community Development Block Grant funds was used to complete this professional evaluation of the condition of the ship. Preservation Partners of the Fox Valley and the Norwegian National League also helped to finance this assessment, which resulted in detailed recommendations for the stabilization phase of the rescue project.

Howard Wellman
Bob Fink
Roger Machin

These recommendations were implemented in June 2008.

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Correct Name of the 1893 Viking Ship

“VIKING er ditt navn.”
(VIKING is your name.)

There is a widespread misunderstanding that the ship initially was named the Raven, and only later renamed Viking.

When one investigates the sources, there is no doubt that Viking is the correct name of the ship.  Books written by both the Captain and crew refer to the ship as Viking.  Newspaper articles written as the ship arrived in cities from New York to Chicago describe the ship as Viking.  See the christening document HERE…

The bronze plaque from Lincoln Park

photo: Vesterheim Museum, Decorah, IA

The plaque incorrectly numbers the crew at fourteen. There were only eleven crew members in addition to Captain Andersen.

The bronze plaque reads:


“This ship came direct from Norway to Chicago under its own sails, with a crew of fourteen Norwegian sailors commanded by Captain Magnus Andersen, carrying a message of good will from the people of Norway to the American people at the World’s Columbian Exposition at Chicago in the year 1893.  It is an exact reproduction of the famous ship about 1000 years old and excavated from the “King’s Mound” at Gokstad, County of Jarlsberg, Norway.  In such ships the ancient Norwegian Vikings roamed the seas and founded Norse domains in Normandy, Ireland and Sicily. About the year 1000 A.D. the Norwegian Viking Leif Eriksen, sailing in such a ship and without the aid of compass, discovered the American continent.”

Viking’s Christening Document

The misnomer Raven likely arose from a red, silk banner that flew over the ship showing the Viking symbol of a black raven with its wings outstretched. But the ship’s original name was indeed Viking, and here we have her Christening document as proof!

Captain Magnus Andersen later admitted that another name had been considered. He wrote that “it was proposed to the committee in charge of the ship that we call it the Leif Erikson, but we finally decided not to, as we did not want Americans to think us demonstrating; the Norwegian is modest.”