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Helmut Schmidt, Published July 14 2012

History of Hjemkomst

• 1971: The idea was first hatched when Moorhead teacher Bob Asp was downing pots of coffee with his brother, Bjarne. A day after that coffee-fueled brainstorming session, Bob Asp fell off the roof of a friend’s house while helping to remodel it, breaking 10 ribs and a shoulder blade, and puncturing a lung, and giving him time to think more about the project.

• Winter 1971-72: Asp researches, draws plans and builds a small model of the ship. Using books from Concordia College, Asp models his ship on a Viking craft called the “Gokstad ship” (pictured at right) that had been found in a burial mound near Sandefjord, Norway, in 1880.

• Spring 1972: Asp sets out to find the oak trees needed to build his ship.

• June 1972: The first logs are milled at the Harvey Engen farm in Viking, Minn.

• Spring and summer 1973: Searching for a place to build the ship, Asp gets a huge lift from the city of Hawley, Minn. The council buys an old potato warehouse and leases it to Asp for $10 a year.

• Lumber planed and processed during the year is unloaded at the warehouse on Dec. 9, 1973.

• July 1975: Asp is diagnosed with chronic lymphsetic leukemia. He begins chemotherapy.

• 1976: Asp is chosen as Moorhead’s Teacher of the Year. He’s offered $25,000 for his ship by a man who wants to have it professionally finished to sail in the tall-ship parade in New York harbor at the nation’s bicentennial. Asp refuses.

• Early 1979: Carpenters are hired (pictured at right) to speed work on the ship and ensure that it is finished before Asp dies.

• July 17, 1980: The Hjemkomst is removed from the potato warehouse after the front of the building is removed and a ramp built.

• July 27, 1980: The Hjemkomst is christened at a celebration in Hawley.

Hjemkomst means “homecoming” in Norwegian.

• Aug. 5-6, 1980: The Hjemkomst is transported 222 miles to Duluth, Minn. (pictured at right)

E Aug. 7, 1980: North Central Terminal gantry operators for the Duluth Seaway Port Authority launch the ship.

• Aug. 9, 1980: The sail is raised for the first time on Lake Superior.

• Dec. 27, 1980: Asp dies.

• Late winter to May 1981: The Hjemkomst is transported to Minneapolis and displayed at the Minneapolis Museum of Art.

• May 11, 1982: The Hjemkomst leaves Duluth harbor (pictured at right), beginning the traverse of the Great Lakes to New York, the jumping off point for the trans-Atlantic expedition.

• June 8, 1982: The Hjemkomst reaches the George Washington Bridge in New York.

• June 14, 1982: The Hjemkomst sails down the East River to the Atlantic Ocean.

• June 20, 1982: The Hjemkomst is battered by a tropical storm, with winds of 50 and 60 knots.

Riding the crest of a wave, the ship is pushed into the face of the wave, and the shock opens a 14-foot-long crack in the hull. Crew members make repairs while under water.

• June 29, 1982: It’s estimated that the Hjemkomst will be at the halfway point of its voyage that night.

• July 10, 1982: First sight of land since leaving New York. Rockall, about 200 miles off the coast of Ireland.

• July 17, 1982: The Hjemkomst arrives in Norway, but is asked to wait until Monday to enter Bergen harbor.

• July 19, 1982: The crew is feted in Bergen with pomp and circumstance.

• Aug. 9, 1982: The Hjemkomst arrives in Olso. Included in the celebrations is a call from then-President Ronald Reagan.

• September 1982: The decision is made to ship the Hjemkomst back to the U.S., rather than attempt to sail her. It is also decided the Red River Valley Heritage Society in Moorhead would create a home for the Hjemkomst.

• September 1983: The Hjemkomst arrives in Cleveland. It was towed by tug to Detroit, and then trucked to Moorhead, before being shipped around the region. The ship was stored at Steam Threshers Hill in Rollag, Minn., until its home at the Hjemkomst Center was completed.

Source materials include: “Hjemkomst: A Homecoming Odyssey” by V. Rose Asp, interviews and Forum archival material.