Viking culture lives at the Heritage Hjemkomst Interpretive Center in Moorhead, Minnesota, just over the border from Fargo, North Dakota. Locals know this as the Hjemkomst Center, a.k.a. home of the storied Hjemkomst ship. This exacting reproduction of a 9th-century Viking burial ship was the passion project of middle school guidance counselor Robert Asp. He started building it in a Minnesota potato warehouse in 1974 and then captained its maiden voyage from Duluth to Lake Superior. Asp died of leukemia before he could sail his beloved Hjemkomst (Norwegian for “homecoming,” btw) across the Great Lakes and then from New York City to Bergen, Norway. So two years after his death, Asp’s kids completed the voyage in his honor. The year was 1982. Today, the imposing boat is on display under a tall white tent.
Also on view: a full-scale replica of Norway’s Hopperstad wood stave church, built by another Nordic enthusiast with a big dream and endless drive. Those are the two big-ticket items your $10 admission covers, but the onsite museum is worth a gander as well. When we visited, the temporary exhibition, “Wet & Dry: Alcohol in Clay County 1871-1937,” was fascinating—all about prohibition, bootleggers, saloon gunfights, and Moorhead’s long-running struggle with binge drinking. (Who knew?!) There was another show about the Saint John’s Bible but, um, we skipped that one.
Access to the attractions fluctuates with the seasons. Check the Center’s hours before setting out.
202 1st Ave. N., Moorhead, MN; 218-299-5515.