Leif Ericson Viking Ship Norseman
Vol. 5 No. 2
Fall 1997

Nearly one thousand years ago, Leif Ericson and his crew were the first Europeans to land on the shores of North America. A group of prominent Scandinavian-Americans have organized to make plans to celebrate this anniversary in 1999-2000. The celebration will begin on Leif Ericson Day, October 9, 1999, and continue through Leif Ericson Day, October 9, 2000. These dates will mark the opening and closing of the Leif Ericson Year.

An international celebration is envisioned, with participation by the United States, Canada, and all Scandinavian countries - Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland. The centerpiece of the celebration will be the re-enactment in the summer of the year 2000 of Leif Ericson’s voyage from the old world to the new by a number of replica Viking Ships. After suitable ceremonies and appearances en route, the voyage will culminate in a "Viking Week" celebration in Philadelphia in late September 2000, a World Viking Symposium, and a grand Commemorative Dinner on Leif Ericson Day, October 9, 2000.

A new committee known as the Leif Ericson Millennium Committee has been formed to plan and undertake the celebration. Distinguished honorary members of the Committee to date include Garrison Keillor, radio personality; Congressman Martin Olav Sabo, 5th District, MN; Arthur C. Nielsen, Jr. of the Nielsen polling group, Deerfield, IL; Helge Alten, President and CEO of Volvo North America; Carl R. Hansen, Commissioner, Cook County, IL; John H.F. Hoving, The Hoving Group, Washington, DC; and Harold John Bernsen, Rear Adm., USN (Ret.) Of Norfolk, VA. Other prominent Nordic-Americans will be added in the next months.

The vision for the Millennium Celebration was created by Chairman Emeritus Ivar Christensen, Founder and long-time President of the Leif Ericson Society International. Committee members include Chairman Per Christensen, ECM/Hudson, Wilton, CT; Vice Chairman Örn Adalsteinsson, DuPont Chemicals, Wilmington, DE; Secretary Dennis L. Johnson, Johnson/Smith Architects, Philadelphia, PA; Arden B. Engebretsen, Esq, Morris, James, Hitchens, and Williams, Wilmington, DE and many others.

Plans are also under way for a number of related educational and informational activities, all designed to heighten the awareness of the accomplishments of Leif Ericson, his crew, and other Vikings who sailed the North Atlantic a thousand years ago in voyages of trade and discovery.

NORSEMAN will be deeply involved in Millennium activities during the Leif Ericson Year. Members are well represented on the Committee, including NORSEMAN President Dennis L. Johnson, Board members Ivar Christensen and Harold Graden, and member Rev. Paul M. Cornell who christened NORSEMAN in 1992.

Stay tuned for further developments. For more information, or for you or your group to participate in Millennium events, contact Dennis L. Johnson at Johnson/Smith Architects, 15 West Highland Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19118, 215-242-3063, fax 215-242-3119, or e-mail


The Philadelphia observance of Leif Ericson Day will be on Thursday, October 9. For many years, October 9 has been nationally recognized as Leif Ericson Day, and is so proclaimed by the President of the United States. Leif Ericson was a Greenlander born in Iceland, son to Eric the Red who was born in Norway.

All Scandinavians, Scandinavian-Americans, and many others of European descent share the unique heritage of being descended from Vikings and are invited to join in this annual celebration of the accomplishments of Leif Ericson, first European to land on North America, in about the year 1000.

Host country for the festivities this year will be Iceland. Expected to be present to speak are the Ambassador form Iceland, Mayor Rendell of Philadelphia, and others. The ceremony will begin promptly at 12:30 p.m., Thursday, October 9 at the Viking Statue at the head of Boat House Row, Kelly Drive, on the Schuylkill in Philadelphia.

The Viking Ship NORSEMAN will sail downriver with its crew of costumed Vikings, displaying the national colors of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. With the crew of Viking sailors as honor guard, proclamations will be read from President Clinton and Mayor Rendell, and a wreath will be placed at the base of the statue of Viking Explorer Thorfinn Karlsefni.

All are invited to join us at this celebration in honor of Leif Ericson. Wear traditional costume or your national colors to take part in this important annual event only 3 years before the Millennium celebration of Leif’s voyage. The celebration begins at noon.

Make your reservations now to enjoy the annual Leif Ericson Day Dinner on the evening of October 9. The host country is Iceland, and the dinner is being held at the Harbor League Club in Camden, NJ. Invited guests include the Ambassador from Iceland, Einar Benediktsson, Mayor and Mrs. Ed Rendell, and others.


We are pleased to announce that work on the NORSEMAN boat shed has finally begun - the four main shed posts have been delivered to the Kalmar Nyckel yard and installed in the ground. These posts will support the entire shed superstructure when complete.

After the launching of the KALMAR NYCKEL on September 28, work will proceed by volunteers to make up and assemble main beams and trussed rafters for the shed, followed by the shingle roof and ornamental work. Soon the NORSEMAN will be protected from the elements in a structure more suitable to the display of a Viking Ship.



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For those with an interest in the military aspects of Viking culture, a recently published book on Viking weapons, armor, and tactics provides a wealth of detailed information. Now in it’s third printing, Viking Hersir 793-1066 AD by Mark Harrison and Gerry Embleton (Warrior Series, Osprey Military Books, Reed Consumer Books Ltd., London, 1993) this comprehensive work reviews Viking training, tactics, logistics, motivation, weapons, and armor during the Viking period. Good color and black and white plates illustrate the numerous varieties of swords, axes, spears, helmets, and shield designs used. (Nowhere is a helmet with horns to be found.)

A limited number of copies of this compact, soft-cover volume of 64 pages are available and may be ordered using the form on the last page of this newsletter.

We have just received a re-supply of the popular Viking Heritage Book, Follow the Vikings, Highlights of the Viking World, direct from Visby, Gotland. (Reviewed in the Spring 1997 Norseman News.) Our first order sold out, but this book is again available - see Order Form, page 4.


Although the appearance in Toronto in June did not pan out due to lack of funding by the intended sponsors, the NORSEMAN has been kept busy appearing at other locations. On May 17, NORSEMAN appeared at the annual Delaware Transportation Fest in Wilmington, DE. June 21 we were at the Midsummer’s Festival in Randolph, NJ and on July 4 and 5 at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia. (NORSEMAN again received an award, this year for costumes.) After our June 24 commercial appearance in New York, we traveled to take part in the great Scandinavian Festival in Waterloo, NJ on Labor Day Sunday.

To fill out the season, NORSEMAN will join other ships and well-wishers at the September 28 Launch of the KALMAR NYCKEL in Wilmington, DE. The following weekend we journey to McLean, VA for Scandinavian Heritage Day on October 4 and will sail in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor on October 5. After Leif Ericson Day festivities in Philadelphia on October 9, we journey to Budd Lake, NJ on October 11 for a Leif Ericson Day parade and festival, then to Brooklyn on October 12 for the Bay Ridge Norsk Host Fest.

Our skippers and crew have worked hard all summer in the fulfillment of our mission to remind all Americans of the accomplishments of Leif Ericson in the discovery of North America by Vikings.


New York ferry passengers, helicopter shuttle patrons, cliff dwellers, and many others in New York were surprised to see the Viking Ship NORSEMAN on the East River on the evening of June 24. Vikings sailed up the River to the Water Club at 30th Street to deliver cases of bottled Norwegian spring water to New York.

Arrangements were made with the New York company to have the NORSEMAN take part in this media event and reception to bring ISBRE water from the glaciers of Norway to New Yorkers. Costumed Vikings unloaded crates of bottled water and carried them into the Club. The Norwegian Trade Council in New York assisted in the arrangements, with press coverage from the New York City area and several Norwegian papers.

For this event, NORSEMAN hoisted a special sail with the ISBRE Water logo of a glacier, and displayed Norwegian colors. After the ceremony, NORSEMAN sailed back to the launch point on Staten Island for return to home port. Especially memorable for the crew was the spectacular view of the lighted cliffs of Manhattan from the East River after sunset. An encounter with curious harbor police in a patrol boat also marked the return journey - somehow a Viking Ship sailing the dark waters off Battery Park attracted their attention!

Our thanks to the Norwegian Trade Council and to ISBRE Holding Corporation for their hospitality and their generosity in making this commercial appearance possible.

· The voyage of the replica Viking Ship ‘Snorri’ which was being sailed in the path of Leif Ericson from Greenland to L’Anse Aux Meadows, has been called off. News reports have indicated that rudder problems caused the voyage to be suspended, to try again next year. Earlier delays and new problems contributed to the decision not to risk the ship and crew further in the face of approaching ice conditions and the hurricane season.

· Interested in a cruise to L’Anse Aux Meadows next summer? The American Canadian Cruise Lines saile to Labrador and Newfoundland from Massena, New York, and includes the coastal scenery of Labrador and Newfoundland, Gros Morne National Park, and L’Anse Aux Meadows. For further information write to the line at 461 Water Street, Box 368, Warren, RI 02885 or call 800-556-7450.

Spring 1997 Newsletter