November 26th, 2007

Viking Spongebob

Viking Ship Trivia

I am in the middle of research for a book on _The Viking,_ the very first Gokstad repro that was sailed to the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exposition. The things that I have--easily I might add--found wrong in the various web pages and articles on something that was just a century ago makes me really despair of knowing something from a thousand! For example:

the name was always the Viking, not The Raven; so far, I have not found how that misnomer originated, though it happened in the 1920s.

Magnus Andersen, the skipper, was not a simple Norwegian sailor; he was a socialist radical who loved the sea.

The World's Fair didn't downplay the Viking ship in comparison to the Columbian caravels (the reception was apparently more boisterous for it than them, and they are usually mentioned together).

The Santa Maria that burned in the 1930s was a seaplane; the reproduction didn't hang arond a burnt hulk until it sank to become an island in the 1950s (it was destroyed, over the objections of local Catholics).

La Rabida is not a surviving world's fair building; it burnt at the start of last century and was rebuilt. the hospital bearing its name just kept that name.

And then there are the new things I've learned.

Andersen wrote two books on the voyage, none of which were translated to English.
His first mate wrote another account that was translated into English (partially) in 1984 but which is now unavailable.
Andersen visited the 1933 Chicago World's Fair; I haven't found out whether he visited The Viking, He was in his 70s at the time.
The Columbian caravels seem to have been towed across the Atlantic.
While several buildings were moved after the fair, the only one I've tracked down as still in existence is Mount Horeb's stave church, which had been the Norway exhibit.
The first night in New York, the crew got drunk and was arrested. When they told the judge that they were blowing off steam from a rigorous voyage across the Atlantic, the judge--a yachtsman--responded that their ship was so well built that you couldn't sink it on a dare and that he could row it back to Norway.

I'm arranging a trip to Chicago right now to poke around various archives. Anyone know where I can find archives of the fair's daily newspaper...?