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Duluth's Viking ship gets a lift to a new home (with video)

Workers with Viant Crane use ropes to carefully guide the Leif Erickson Viking ship off the truck and onto a flatbed parked on the bridge connecting Leif Erikson Park to London Road on Thursday morning. From there it was driven to a warehouse at the former LaFarge Cement terminal. (Bob King / rking@duluthnews.com)2 / 6
Workers with Viant Crane use ropes to guide the Leif Erickson Viking ship onto a flatbed parked on the bridge connecting Leif Erikson Park to Superior Street in Duluth on Thursday morning. From there it was driven to a warehouse at the former LaFarge Cement terminal. (Bob King / News Tribune)3 / 6
Onlookers keep an eye on the progress of the Leif Erikson Viking ship as it's moved by crane to a flatbed positioned on the bridge from Leif Erikson Park to London Road. (Bob King / rking@duluthnews.com)4 / 6
A crew moves the Leif Erikson Viking ship in Duluth in 1944. (Photo courtesy of Randy Ellestad)5 / 6
Captain Gerhard Folgero on the bow of the Leif Erikson Viking ship. He sailed the boat from Norway to the U.S. in 1926. (Photo courtesy of Randy Ellestad)6 / 6

A ship that once sailed across the Atlantic Ocean soared through the air in Duluth on Thursday, on a journey toward a brighter future.

The city's Leif Erikson Viking ship was lifted by crane several times -- first to extract it from its home along the Lakewalk onto one trailer, then onto a "highboy trailer" to get it over a bridge spanning the adjacent North Shore Scenic Railroad tracks, and then a third time onto a "lowboy" trailer for a journey to a warehouse at the former Lafarge Cement terminal on the city's bayfront -- a last-minute change from the initial destination, a city tool house in West Duluth.

The 42-foot-long vessel will undergo some additional repair and restoration work, and then be held for safekeeping until a new, permanent, more secure display location is ready.

After Thursday morning's second lift, a crowd gathered along London Road to watch and take photos as the old ship, settled on its second trailer, inched over the bridge and out into the street. It was backed to the Rose Garden parking lot, where the third transfer took place. Viant Crane performed the lifts.

The Leif Erikson ship was built in Norway and sailed from Bergen in 1926, under the command of Captain Gerhard Folgero. After a number of stops, it arrived in Duluth the following year, was purchased by businessmen Bert Enger and Emil Olson, and donated to the city for public display.

After years of neglect, some restoration of the vessel took place in the late 1980s and 1990s. But the boat remained sitting in a somewhat secluded location along the Lakewalk, hidden under shrink wrap and at risk of additional vandalism.

Now workers will have the chance to complete restoration work -- replacing the dragonhead prow and shields along the sides. A custom trailer will allow the ship to be displayed at events in the area, and Leif Erikson Viking Ship Restoration Project officials continue to look for a permanent home. One location under consideration is a grassy area along Superior Street near its intersection with London Road.

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