Minnesota Vikings: Football and Beyond

As another Autumn sets in here in Minnesota, many football fans are tuning in each Sunday to watch the Minnesota Vikings and hoping they don’t blow it this year.  While most people think of the purple NFL team when they hear the term “Minnesota Vikings,” there is a rich and storied history here beyond the pads.

The “Viking” is a very emblematic mascot for Minnesota.   Tales of Vikings around here date back to the 1300’s and earlier. There’s the questionable Kensington Runestone yarn, the Hjemkomst Viking ship incident, and the Scandinavian/Norwegian/German history which is still very alive and present here today.

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Outside of the Minnesota Vikings’ headquarters in Eden Prairie, MN, there is a Viking Ship replica on display. Beyond that, there is the Viking logo in the front window of the training facility.

Then there’s the Viking statue in Spring Grove, MN – which is a nod to the Norwegian heritage present in this area. Spring Grove is found in southeastern MN between Amish country and Bluff country.

2013-11-13 14.54.31 HDRIn my hometown of Moorhead, MN, there is an actual battle-tested Norwegian Viking replica ship at the Heritage Hjemkomst Center that was sailed from America to Norway back in 1982 and brought back several years later. It was built in the 1970’s by Robert Asp, a local junior high guidance counselor, with the help of local students and residents. Asp did get to sail on the Hjemkomst ship on Lake Superior, but he died before they got to sail it to Norway, which they completed 2 years after he passed.

Down in New Ulm, MN, a very German town in southwestern MN near Mankato, on top of a hill overlooking the Minnesota River is Hermann the German.  This statue commemorates the Germanic victory over the Romans at the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. Driving through downtown New Ulm evokes thoughts of a historic, authentic German town, with its Glockenspiels, beer taverns, and German food.

And then of course there is the legendary Big Ole. This classic Alexandria roadside giant has a shield that reads “Birthplace of America.”  Read more why Alexandria, MN claims that here.

In tiny Hampton, MN, just south of the twin cities, we find two Viking Statues outside of a Trucking company along with a couple other random statues.  One of them holds a shield with the NFL logo on it.

These are not the only vikings in Minnesota.  Duluth has a Leif Ericson statue located inside a rose garden down near the lake, as pictured below.

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There is also a Leif Ericcson statue at the Minnesota State Capitol Building in St Paul.

2013-08-18 12.04.01Then there’s the Nordic Inn Medieval Brew and Bed, Crosby, MN. This viking-themed Bed & Breakfast allows you to dress and act like a viking and dine like barbarians as well as an interactive program where you get into character and attempt to “survive the night.” I want to do it.

107_3578Milan, MN has a woodcarved Viking statue downtown as well. There are countless restaurants, bars, hotels, etc all across Minnesota with a Viking theme. But if you want to see modern-day Viking warriors battle it out, you can always check out a Minnesota Vikings game in Minneapolis!

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