A Viking in Vogue

It’s a good deed that Erik Larson, author of The Devil in the White City, could appreciate. The Viking Ship duplicate that sailed from Norway to the U.S. in 1893 to prove that Erikson and his Vikings could have reached North American shores before Columbus is finally being fixed up. The vessel had been part of the Columbian Exposition that year, the same mega-event that Larson used as a backdrop for his bestseller.

The ship’s post-exhibition life was largely spent on land in a Chicago park until a local group offered to take and fix it up. That plan didn’t materialize. Landmarks Illinois finally put the deteriorating hull on its 2007 endangered list. In the last 12 months, the boat, now in Geneva, Ill., has been slowly being repaired. Liz Safanda and the Preservation Partners of Fox Valley (PPFV), have worked together to and many others to bring the ship back to life with the assistance from a Partners in Preservation grant and local fundraisers. A steel
cradle was altered with new supports, the ship was returned to its original position, a dozen frames added to support the stressed structure. Finally, a new ramp was added so visitors could look at the ship, up close and personal like Larson might have liked to do.