“So it will go, the dream will move from dream to reality to memories.”
– Robert Asp
Our first stop Wednesday was to see how one man’s dream translated into a reality and inspiration for others.
We traveled to Moorhead, Minn., to the Hjemkomst Historical Heritage Center to view Robert Asp’s ship, Hjemkomst (Norwegian for Homecoming).
Asp, a Fargo teacher, dreamed of building a Viking ship and sailing it back to the home of his Norwegian forefathers. It became a reality in 1972 when he began building the ship in a former potato warehouse in Hawley, Minn.
However, Asp was soon diagnosed with leukemia and was unable to complete his dream. He died in December 1980 just months after sailing his completed ship on Lake Superior for its first sail.
His dream still moved forward with family and friends sailed the 16-ton ship 6,100 miles from Duluth, Minn., to Bergen, Norway. The 12-man crew arrived on July 19, 1982.
The Hjemkomst is now housed inside the center, while nearby is the Moorhead Stave Church — the dream of a South Dakota man who donated the church to the Hjemkomst Center and the City of Moorhead.
Guy Paulson built the church as a replica of the Hopperstad stave church in Vik, Norway, which was across the fjord from the farmstead where his father was born and his ancestors lived.
The Hopperstad stave church is believed to be the second oldest remaining stave church, built around 1140 at the end of the Viking age.
The church served the Vik community until 1877. It was eventually sold to the Society for the Preservation of Norwegian Ancient Monuments. There are now only 28 remaining stave churches.
For Paulson, construction began in January 1997. It took Paulson a year and a half to raise the structure, although the finishing touches would take another three years.
A walkway of stones curve up to the church since it was believed that evil spirits could only walk in a straight path. The curved stone pathway knocked the evil spirits off course.
It also has 25,000 rectangular shingles and a window for leprosy victims. According to the center, it uses the Urness Style of using complex patterns of intertwined dragons, plants and other animals. Since the Hopperstad stave church was used for centuries, Paulson also had to recreate patterns from three different periods.
The medieval wooden church did get few modern details — nails were used during construction and it has a reinforced concrete foundation covered with a stone veneer to match the appearance of a Vik, Norway, structure. It also is handicap access, electric lighting, a sprinkler system, thermometers and motion sensors. Here are some more pictures from the church: