Take Note

March 22, 2000 1 min read

Four years ago, a student in Edward Eisenhuth’s world-culture class at Minersville Area High School in Pennsylvania showed him a picture of a Viking ship built by Danish Boy Scouts.

That gave Mr. Eisenhuth an idea for a graduation project that took four years to realize. “Why not have our students build a Viking ship?” the Schuylkill County teacher asked himself.

Mr. Eisenhuth took a proposal to the school’s wood shop teacher, Frederick Lutkus, who said he just needed building specifications to get started.

Two years later, blueprints arrived from the curator of the Viking Ship Museum, affiliated with Oslo University in Norway. It took two years to secure enough donations and grants to begin.

In September 1998, the two teachers had 16 ambitious seniors build a sailable replica of a faeringer, a Viking cargo ship that would have had a two- or three-man crew and could haul about 250 pounds through rivers and fjords.

The students’ boat, christened the MAHS Faeringer, is a replica of a boat from the year 895 found in 1880 in a burial site off the Oslo Fjord.

Mr. Eisenhuth estimates that the students and shop teacher each spent 300 hours after school working on the project, and he also put in about 150 hours.

When the boat wasn’t finished in June, “the kids came back [after graduating] and finished it up on the Fourth of July weekend,” Mr. Eisenhuth said. The replica had its official dedication last September, when it sailed on a nearby lake.

The 21-foot wooden ship will be shown at Western Michigan and Pennsylvania State universities. Plans are underway for a display at the Smithsonian Institution’s “North America Saga 2000" exhibit, scheduled from April 29 to Sept. 4 at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington.

A student-designed Web page provides a history of the project at

—Naomi Greengrass & Mark Jennings

A version of this article appeared in the March 22, 2000 edition of Education Week