Word Nerd: Erikson

Commons.wikipedia.orgA 1968 Leif Erikson stamp

Erikson [ɛr•ɪk•sən]

1. Leif Erikson: A Viking explorer credited as the first European to discover North America nearly five hundreds prior to Christopher Columbus.

The son of Norwegian Viking Erik the Red, Erikson touched down on the north tip of Newfoundland in what is modern day Canada sometime around the year 1000 AD. Having blown off course on a voyage from Norway to bring Christianity to Greenland, he established the Norse colony of Vinland on the patch of craggy shore he arrived at in Newfoundland, though there has been much debate of where the colony of Vinland was actually located.

2. Leif Erikson Drive: a major thoroughfare near the Columbia River through the east end of Astoria. As Marine Drive heads east out of downtown, it becomes Leif Erickson Drive as it crosses Franklin Avenue to the south and 32nd Street on the north near the Safeway.

A roughly two-mile stretch of U.S. Route 30, Leaf Erikson Drive winds it way out of town with the name terminating at the intersection of Nimitz Drive and Maritime Road around Tongue Point as the highway continues to push east.

A common Scandinavian patronymic surname which literally means “Son of Erik.” Erikson — also Eriksen, Ericsson, Eriksson, and the North German variant, Erichsen — are all respellings derived from the Old Norse name Eiríkr, or Erik, which is a combination of the words ei, which means “always” or “forever,” and ríkr, which means “power” or “ruler.” Combined the personal name was taken to mean “sole ruler,” as in sense of the one true king.

“50 years ago […] The sturdy Sons of Norway seem to have won a bloodless victory before the city council in defense of the name of Leif Erikson for that portion of the main highway lying east of 32nd street.

“Before the firm resistance of the Sons of Norway, the attempts to put a new name on Leif Erikson Drive have faltered and broken. The attack apparently has been abandoned, and the name of the Viking discoverer of America will remain commemorated for years to come in this city where so many of his descendants live.”

—“Water Under the Bridge,” ​The Daily Astorian, Wednesday, April 20, 2005

“‘I have to-day the honor of announcing to you the discovery of Vinland, including the landfall of Leif Erikson and the site of his houses.’ The following is the inscription on the tablet let into the tower: ‘Landfall of Leif Erikson on Cape Cod, 1000 A.D. Norse canals, dams, walls, pavements, forts, terraced places of assembly, remain to-day.’”

—“A Norwegian Settlement in Massachusetts Five Hundred Years Before Columbus,” The Daily Astorian, Friday, Dec. 6, 1889, p. 2

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