| Click for more pictures|
Sailing in Good Templar Park
When you come to Good Templar Park in Geneva for Swedish Day on Sunday, June 15, there will be another very special guest in the park already. His name is "Raven" and this Norwegian has seen some rough sailing--across the Atlantic Ocean and at the hands of Chicago decision makers. How did it get there? Well, that's a story that started about one thousand years ago.
The Viking ship you will see in Good Templar Park is a replica of the Gokstad ship that was built around year 850. Just ten to fifteen years later, it was buried in the ground with the last remains of a Norwegian king, his twelve horses and many other belongings.
The Gokstad ship rested in the blue clay that preserved it for a thousand years until it was dug out in 1880. It is now displayed in the Viking Ship Hall in Bygdoy, Norway.
A Norwegian, captain Magnus Andersen, followed the recovery of the beautiful longship with fascinated interest. He was also well aware of the importance of the reputation of the Norwegian ship building industry. When he heard it rumored that Spain planned to display replicas of Columbus' Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago 1893, he went into action.
Captain Andersen built and almost exact copy of the Gokstad ship and sailed it across the Atlantic Ocean. As the main attraction at the Columbian Exposition, it proved the skill of Norwegian ship building and seafaring to the rest of the world. It also proved that the Vikings had the means to sail to America 600 years before Columbus sailed westward.
This is the ship named "Raven" that is temporarily "mooring" at Good Templar Park waiting to be restored.
You can't help but being impressed by the beautiful lines of the ship even if the tail and the
dragon head are missing. They are presently being restored at the Museum of Science and Industry.       The "Raven" projects solidity and power, but it must have seemed small to the twelve men who sailed it across the ocean, fighting waves two storied high.
Captain Andersen, though, had nothing but praise for how his ship handled even under the most difficult circumstances. He said that the rudder was proof of "our ancestor's insight and seafaring. The rudder is genial."
Captain Andersen was equally impressed with the flexibility of the keel and the gunwales. "The bottom together with the keel gave with every movement of the ship, and in strong head-sea the keel could move up and down as much as three quarters of an inch. But strangely enough the ship stayed completely watertight. The ship's remarkable elasticity was also apparent in other way; in heavy seas for instance, the gunwales would twist out of true by as much as six inches."
Everyone in Bergen, Norway, was at the harbor when the "Raven" steered out toward the Atlantic Ocean on April 3rd, 1893. It would be 28 days of rough sailing through several storms before the Norwegians saw lights at Bacalao, Newfoundland before daybreak, May 27th.
After it's success at the Columbian Exposition, the "Raven" found a home at Jackson Park in Chicago until 1920 when it was restored and placed at Lincoln Park Zoo. When the animals need more elbow room in 1994, the ship anchored at the Belding-Wabridge Corporation in West Chicago until the company moved it to Good Templar Park in Geneva. Since this is a temporary arrangement, we don't know how long the ship will be here. So take the opportunity to get close to this century old ship, a replica of another Viking ship that sailed the Atlantic one thousand years ago.