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May 22, 1926: The Leif Erikson sets sail from Norway

On this day in  1926, the replica Viking ship Leif Erikson embarked on an epic journey that ended in Duluth. Captain Gerhard Folgero and his crew—John Johnson, Thomas Stavanes (often misidentified as Osvald Gabrielson, who replaced Stavenes after the vessel reached the U.S.), Kristian Anderson, and the captain’s dog—set sail from Bergen, Norway, to retrace Erikson’s voyage from Norway to Iceland to the coast of Labrador and on to “Vinland.” At the time many mistakenly believed that Vinland was actually modern Massachusetts, so Boston became Folgero’s ultimate destination. It wasn’t easy. The crew faced hurricane-like winds, icebergs, and weeks of fog. But they made it to Labrador and on to Boston, covering 6,700 miles in fifty days. After reaching Boston, the crew eventually headed to Duluth on the offer of H. H. Borgen, president of Duluth’s Nordlandslaget Society, to come to the Zenith City to participate in the organization’s state convention. By the time Folgero and his crew arrived in Duluth on June 23, 1927, they had covered roughly 10,000 miles. The vessel was later placed in Duluth’s Lake Shore Park, which was then renamed Leif Erikson Park. Read our history of 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)