June 23, 1927: The Leif Erikson Arrives in Duluth

On this day in Duluth in 1927, the replica Viking ship Leif Erikson arrived in Duluth after traveling about 10,000 from Borgen, Norway. The journey hadn’t been easy: The Norwegian sailors faced hurricane-like winds, icebergs, and weeks of fog. But they made it to Labrador and on to Boston, covering 6,700 miles, in 50 days. From Boston they sailed on to Duluth to take part in a national convention of Norwegian emigrants. That they accomplished this in a 42-foot boat outfitted with only oars and a square sail is nothing short of remarkable. Thousands of Duluthians lined the ship canal to watch the vessel enter the port of Duluth, and “Roared” as Captain Gearhard Folgero and his crew—John Johnson, Osvald Gabrielson, Kristian Anderson, and the captain’s dog—navigated the channel.  The next day the Duluth News Tribune published plans of Congressman William Carss, who suggested Duluthians raise funds to purchase the ship and move it to Lakeshore Park, then rename the park in the boat’s honor. But it was Bert Enger and Emil Olson, West End furniture dealers and Norwegian immigrants, who purchased the boat and gave it to Duluth for all to enjoy, and indeed Lakeshore Park was rechristened Leif Erikson Park. The boat was once considered Duluth’s second-largest tourist attraction, now sits in storage awaiting a new home. Read more about the Leif Erikson here and the history of Leif Erikson Park here.

The Leif Erikson replica Viking ship passing through the Duluth Ship Canal on June 23, 1927. (Image: Tom Kasper)rikson

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