A Viking ship is a rare sight on a Pennsylvania lake, so when I learned the Norseman was sailing October 13 I made sure I was there.
Leif Ericson Day is October 9, and to mark the annual celebration of the explorer now credited with stumbling on North America before Columbus, the Philadelphia-based Leif Ericson Viking Ship folks took their Norseman out on the lake at Marsh Creek State Park. The ship was scheduled to land at noon at the West Boat Launch area. I arrived at 11:40 and began firing away with the camera.
Conditions were less than optimal for the Norseman. While it was a warm fall day with beautiful skies, the wind was strong, and the ship was rowed to shore rather than under sail. The crew was in good spirits. I noted that they were a mix of reenactors and enthusiasts. While that seems a strange distinction, I don’t know how else to describe that some people were in costume and some weren’t, and that some of the costumed folks made concessions to modern life; I doubt any of Ericson’s crew wore Nikes, for instance.
After landing, the crew and their support on land held a ceremony in honor of Ericson’s landing. Each year a different Scandinavian country is recognized as part of the ceremony. This year the honor fell to Norway, and the Norwegian national anthem was sung, followed by the Star Spangled Banner. The leader of the group read a short speech about Ericson, and the annual statement from the White House about Leif Ericson Day. The crowd of thirty people enjoyed the short ceremony, which ended with a wreath-laying on the dock and the blowing of a ram’s horn.
But for me the day continued. I spent some time photographing the ship up close, and then went on a short hike along the lake. I put about a mile under my boots, enjoying the crisp air and the views of the lake. It was a good time, and now I know for certain the Vikings were in Downingtown before Columbus.