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August Werner

Cleveland /  Leif Eriksson

Information Sign

A plaque with the text:

The first European to
establish a settlement on
the North American continent.
1000-1003 A.D.
Dedicated August 25, 2001
by the
Scandinavian Community
of Northeast Ohio.


Ericson honored for exploration
by David Plata, Staff Writer
Aug. 30, 2001

He stares into the offing, perhaps with the piercing gaze that once looked across mist-shrouded seas, in search of distant shores.

He — it — is a statue of Viking explorer Leif Ericson, installed last weekend atop a sandstone boulder at Shooter's on the Water in the Flats, commemorating the man believed to have discovered America about A.D. 1000, 500 years before Columbus.

"We wanted someplace on the water that would represent his involvement with sea exploration, and the entire lifestyle of Viking explorers who braved incredible conditions in unbelievable boats," said Emilie Knud-Hansen of Bay Village, organizer of the Leif Ericson Millennium Committee of America's North Coast.

The dedication was accompanied by a visit by the Norseman, a Viking ship replica, in Cleveland as part of the Sail Cleveland 2001 festival, held Friday through Sunday.

Knud-Hansen, of Danish descent, said more than $25,000 was raised for the international project, three years in the planning. Husqvarna Viking Sewing Machines Inc., with North American headquarters in Westlake, provided $10,000. The rest was raised through fund-raisers.

Among those helping were three honorary consuls in Ohio — J. Christian Langmack, Denmark; Henry J. Lukas, Norway; and Michael L. Miller, Sweden.

Knud-Hansen said archeological finds at L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, are compatible with ancient maps and records showing Ericson was the first European to land on the continent, between 1000 and 1003.

"We're not trying to badmouth Columbus or any other explorer," she said, "but Ericson was here nearly 500 years before."

The head-only bronze casting was made by the Riverdog Foundry in Seattle, Wash., based on the world-famous statue by sculptor Philip Levine [correction: August Werner, Philip Levine was the project manager]. Full-size statues are in Seattle, Norway and Iceland [correction: Greenland].

"He is a true Viking warrior," Knud-Hansen said of the statue. "You're not going to be mistaken. But no horns. Vikings did not have horns on their helmets. They're purely for ceremonial purposes. The real warriors did not have horns on their helmets, because they would have snapped their necks if a sword had hit them. The helmets are bullet-shaped, so a sword would glance off the head."

Knud-Hansen said the statue will remain at Shooters until 2004, when plans are to move it to the Transportation Museum of the Western Reserve Historical Society, to be built on Lake Erie.


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