For residents of Syracuse at the end of the 19th century, a boat entering the city via the Erie Canal wouldn’t cause much of a fuss. However, as word spread on the afternoon of June 30th, 1893 that an unusual ship was headed towards Syracuse, crowds began to gather along the canal.
The Viking, a replica of the Gokstad – a 9th-century Norwegian Viking ship that was uncovered in the early 1890s – was on its way to the Columbian Exposition in Chicago when it sailed into Syracuse at around 6:00 pm. Traveling across the Atlantic Ocean from Bergen, Norway and down the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Erie Canal, members of the crew said the crowds in Syracuse were “…the biggest reception we have received anywhere along the line and fully equals the crowds that welcomed us in New York.” C.W. Snow, president of the Business Men’s Association, welcomed the men and “hoped that they would remain long enough to see the various manufacturing and business enterprises which make us prosperous.”
Members of The Viking were then brought to The Yates for a banquet dinner with a number of prominent community members where various speeches were made and traditional Norwegian songs sung by the crew. At midnight, The Viking’s crewreturned to their ship and continued westward towards Chicago. Today, the ship is located in Good Templar Park in Geneva, Illinois and is maintained by Friends of the Viking Ship.