From Chicago to New Orleans

“… and that Viking was the only ship that had sailed over the Atlantic ocean, thereafter gone through the Erie Canal and through the Great Lakes and on down canals and rivers to the Mexican Gulf.”

Magnus Andersen

At the conclusion of the World’s Columbian Exposition, Viking was towed through the Illinois and Michigan Canal and down the Illinois River to Grafton. She then sailed down the Mississippi River to New Orleans.

Read an article from 11-29-1893 HERE. “Thousands of People View the Strange Norse Craft”

Viking remained in New Orleans over the winter.

Never able to complete her journey around Florida and up the East Coast to Washington, D.C., Viking was towed back to Chicago.

After her return, the Viking sat beside the Field Columbian Museum (now the Museum of Science and Industry) Here Viking was neglected.

Viking Ship at Jackson Park

Viking moored in the Jackson Park Lagoon photo: Vesterheim Museum, Decorah, IA

From The Book of the Fair

“The Viking ship, which divides the naval honors with the Spanish caravels, is constructed on the model of that discovered in the “Kingsmound” at Gokstad, near Sandefjord, Norway, by a sailor in 1880, and built by popular subscription for the World’s Fair. Unlike the caravels, this vessel made the voyage to America on her own resources, and with a degree of comfort and speed that proved at least the possibility of Leif Ericsson’s famous exploit. She is of oak, clinker built, caulked with cow’s hair spun into a sort of cord, seventy five feet over all in length, sixty feet on the keel, a beam of fifteen and a half feet, and a draught of three and a half. At the prow rises high in the air a great carved dragon’s head, and the tail of the beast appears at the stern, both richly gilded and the splendor of the vessel is further increased by the row of shields along each bulwark, in yellow and black, and, when in commission, by the red and white striped roofing. At the stern is a massive “high seat” for the chief or “Jarl,” covered with carved Runic inscriptions; there are no decks excepting two small ones, fore and aft, and the rigging consists of one mast that can be taken down, and one yard carrying a great square sail. The oars are sixteen on each side, each seventeen feet long, and the ship is steered by an oar on the starboard side, near the stern, after the old sea-king fashion.”

Paul V. Gavin Library Digital History Collection

The “Viking” arrived in Chicago at the World’s Columbian Exposition and throughout the “Fair” was moored beside the Manufacturers building.  Jackson Park was originally designed in the 1870s, but was little improved until 1890 when Frederick Law Olmsted laid out the World’s Columbian Exposition on the site.  Read more…

From Norway to Chicago


The ship was built in Sandefjord, Norway, and later christened Viking.

Viking under construction at Sandefjord photo: Vesterheim Museum, Decorah, IA

Captain Magnus Andersen and his crew

280 men applied to make the historic voyage, but only eleven were chosen. Crossing the north Atlantic was a brave experiment proving that Leif Erikson could have made the same crossing in AD1000.
Read about the only authenticated Viking settlement in North America HERE… and HERE

The Viking ship in the Erie Canal.

“Viking” in Erie Canal photo: Vesterheim Museum, Decorah, IA

The Viking ship arriving in Chicago.

“Viking” Arrives in Chicago, by Hjalmar Johnssen, 1898

From The Book of the Fair

“… as the approaching Columbian Exposition began to be the talk of the world, it was determined to send there her (Gokstad’s) counterpart, manned by Norwegian sailors and unattended by any other craft, in order to prove the feasibility of Leif Erikson’s alleged expedition, more than nine centuries ago, from Norway to the New England coast. Thus from Sandefjord the vessel, built by public subscription in the spring of 1893, set sail for New York, and in the middle of July anchored off Jackson park.”

Paul V. Gavin Library Digital History Collection

The Viking is a replica of the Gokstad ship.

Excavated in 1880, the Gokstad was called the most beautiful ship ever built.

Of the Viking it was written…

“Her lines are remarkably beautiful, resembling those of a yacht, the convex curvature of the keel increasing her strength and steadiness of motion.”

The Book of the Fair