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The Viking Ship Moored Near The “Illinois”
In the marine division of the Transportation department the most interesting exhibits are the Columbian caravels and the Viking ship of the Norsemen, reproduced as nearly as possible in facsimile, just as they sailed in the seas many centuries ago.
Chicago Tribune Supplement
Of the Viking ship, resembling the vessel in which, as is claimed, a Norwegian navigator discovered the North American continent nearly a thousand years ago, the following is briefly the story. During the winter of 1879 a sailor, living at the port of Sandefjord, employed his spare time in exploring a mound on the outskirts of the town, where, as tradition related, a Viking had been buried with all his earthly belongings. In this ancient Saga legend the towns-folk had little faith; but the sailor persisted, and after digging a square hole not many feet in depth, his spade struck a solid oak plank, which proved to be the side of a ship. Thereupon the royal university of Christiania sent men to inspect the relic, and in early summer, when the frozen earth could be cleared away, it was found to be the genuine craft of “a Viking old,” whose skeleton, encased in armor, still kept guard over his treasure, its wood-work, oars, and equipments all well preserved after the lapse of many ages.
The vessel was repaired and removed to the university, where now is its home, and as the approaching Columbian Exposition began to be the talk of the world, it was determined to send there her counterpart, manned by Norwegian sailors and unattended by any other craft, in order to prove the feasibility of Leif Erikson 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. To call her a ship is somewhat of a misnomer, for she has no deck, and carries but little sail. Rather is she a large open boat of some 27 tons, more than 70 feet long and 16 in the beam, with 32 oars, each 17 feet in length, her bow and stern far above her body and her clinker-built planks overlapping like the weather-boarding of a house. Her lines are remarkably beautiful, resembling those of a yacht, the convex curvature of the keel increasing her strength and steadiness of motion. Such is the vessel in which a crew of Norwegian sailors crossed the Atlantic and the lakes, sleeping on reindeer skins and cooking their food as best they could in the bow of their unsheltered craft.