Nordic Spirit Classics Second Friday Series

The Ships That Built the West

by Olaf T. Engvig

A virtual presentation on How the “Scandinavian Navy” Built the West.

Nordic Spirit Second Friday
April 14, 2023
7:30 PM Pacific Daylight Time

19th century Scandinavian immigrants settling the Midwestern prairies are well-known. Not so well known but extremely important are the Scandinavians who captained and crewed the lumber schooners that helped build the West — that brought lumber from the forests of the Pacific Northwest to build the cities of the Southwestern United States and more. So many of these lumber schooners that plied the West Coastal waters were captained and crewed by Scandinavians that they were nicknamed “The Scandinavian Navy.” Olaf T. Engvig, maritime historian and restorer of historic Norwegian ships, will tell about these lumber schooners, their crews, and their important contribution to the development of the West Coast. He will tell, for example, why the experience of Scandinavian captains was well-suited for the dangerous task of loading the ships in turbulent waters.

This presentation was given at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum. We thank the Maritime Museum and Executive Director Greg Gorga for allowing us to use this video.


Participation is free; registration is required.

Use the link below to register for the presentation. You will receive a confirmation email with the Zoom meeting link.

For meeting information, please contact

The Nordic Spirit Symposium and Nordic Spirit Second Friday Series are programs of the Scandinavian American Cultural & Historical Foundation in Thousand Oaks, California.

The annual Nordic Spirit Symposium is co-sponsored by California Lutheran University, made possible by grants from the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation and Norway House Foundation in San Francisco.