We like to build random Scandinavian artifacts. Not herring barrels. Churches and viking ships. Just in case you want to pray before you beat up some Saxons.
The stave church was built in 1998 by Guy Paulson. It’s a full-scale replica of the medieval churches in Norway. Paulson used ground up bones of Swedes in the mortar. I made that last part up.
The Hjemkomst (YUM-komst . . . er, yeah) was built in my hometown of Hawley, Minnesota. Back in 1974 Robert Asp and his family built the Hjemkomst in an old potato warehouse on 6th Street (basically the main drag if you’re a townie). Some of the lumber was milled at the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers site, which gave an extra bit of old timeyness.
When it was finished in 1980 the Hjemkomst sat in the grain elevator parking lot for a bit so people could look at it and feel a little bit closer to their forefathers. Robert Asp was able to take the helm as he and his crew sailed throughout Lake Superior. Unfortunately, Asp passed away before the Hjemkomst sailed to Norway and back. It now is permanently docked at the Hjemkomst Center on 1st Avenue in Moorhead, Minnesota.
A few anecdotal tidbits about the Hjemkomst:
-There used to be a billboard in Hawley that sat along Highway 10. It read, “Birthplace of the Hjemkomst.” I would pass by it daily on the school bus. Now I knew what the Hjemkomst was, but I didn’t understand Norwegian spelling. I thought it was a typo. Even in grade school I was embarrassed at what I thought was a huge mistake. Every day was a constant reminder that we didn’t know how to spell or proofread.
-During the summer I would walk to and from my grandma’s past the sign and the flower garden marking where the ship was built. The opening in which the sign sat was very narrow. It didn’t dawn on me the lateral buildings could have been built after the fact. I thought, “How did they build a HUGE ship in such a small area?” They didn’t.
-There was talk about putting the museum in Hawley, but they figured no would go see it.