The ship was built at the Rødsverven shipyard in Sandefjord, Norway. The construction was undertaken by Christen Christensen and Ole Wegger. The ship was christened Viking. Viking was sailed by Captain Magnus Andersen and a crew of 11 from Bergen in Norway.
Viking sailed to North America, via Newfoundland and New York, up the Hudson River, through the Erie Canal and into the Great Lakes to Chicago, where the World's Columbian Exposition was taking place in 1893 to commemorate the discovery of America by Columbus. Carter Harrison, Sr., Chicago's four-term mayor, boarded and took command for the last leg of the voyage, arriving at Jackson Park on Wednesday, July 12, 1893 to much fanfare.
After the Exposition, Viking travelled to New Orleans and wintered there. On her return to Chicago, Viking was first located beside the Field Columbian Museum (now the Museum of Science and Industry) in Chicago, then restored in 1919 and placed in Lincoln Park under a fenced-in, wooden shelter. In 1993 the Chicago Park District made it known that Viking would have to be moved from its location to make room for expansion of the Lincoln Park Zoo.
Funds were raised within the Scandinavian-American community and in 1994 the ship was moved into a warehouse in West Chicago. Afterwards it was moved to Good Templar Park in Geneva, Illinois and secured under a canopy. Viking's head and tail are currently in storage at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.
In 2008, stabilization of the ship was begun with funds awarded by American Express in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Friends of the Viking Ship was established to further the preservation effort and gained title to the Viking ship in 2012. Docent led tours are offered on scheduled dates during the months of April through October. Additional keel supports were installed in 2014. A further step in the stabilization effort will be to clean, treat and seal all of Viking's thousands of rivets.
- The Gokstad Ship.("Topical Stamps". March 31, 2005)
- The Viking. (by Per Åkesson. "Replicas of Nordic Ships" . October 1998)
- Viking ship from 1893 Chicago world's fair begins much-needed voyage to restoration (Chicago Tribune. June 26, 2008)
- Friends of the Viking Ship website
- Landmarks Illinois - Statewide Endangered Archive 2007
- Preservation Partners of the Fox Valley
- American Express - Partners In Preservation
- Geneva News
- Norwegian National League