Tag Archives: Historical

A Sunken Ship Reborn

This Ship Has a Story to Tell

Click icon to view map. Detailed directions and parking instructions in Stockholm can be found here.

We would like to thank one of our readers, Melissa, for sending us photos of the Vasa from her recent trip to Sweden. We enjoy hearing from our readers, and welcome you to send us your travel stories through our Share Your Travels page. Your contributions help make UndiscoveredWanderings possible. We would also like to thank the Vasa Museum (Vasamuseet) of Stockholm for assisting UndiscoveredWanderings with this article.

The Vasa, a sunken ship raised from its watery grave centuries after it met its untimely demise, is one of the most popular attractions in Scandinavia, but virtually unknown in America. We certainly weren’t aware of it until we received this postcard from our friend, Melissa, addressed to UWanderings’s Founder/Editor:

Intrigued, We Set Out to Learn More
The year is 1628. The Vasa was a grand spectacle, complete with two decks of cannons, 10 sails, and beautiful artwork and carvings. The pride of the Swedish Navy; the might of Scandinavia. The ship was a force to be reckoned with. At least it would have been if it ever made it to sea. The ship, it turned out, was top-heavy and very much overloaded. There were plenty of warning signs to indicate design flaws during its construction 400 years ago—including the yet-to-be-completed ship’s dangerous rocking—but political pressure of the day demanded the biggest and most intimidating ship, so such concerns were overruled or simply ignored.

The Vasa at its current home, the Vasamuseet, still drying out.

On its maiden voyage, less than a mile out of dock in Stockholm Harbor, the Vasa keeled over and sank. It was a complete disaster that was keenly visible to the watchful public that day, plus a major diplomatic embarrassment. King Gustav II Adolf was not pleased, even though he approved the ship’s design in the first place. Investigations ensued, but no one officially took the blame once concluded. Perhaps the powers that be would rather have forgotten this whole failure altogether.

And so the Vasa sat, beneath the murky, cold Swedish waters for over three centuries, until a major salvage operation in 1961 brought the world’s attention to this relic of the past, reintroducing it to a brand new, welcoming public. The cold waters actually helped to preserve its hull, but its journey was far from over. Preserving the Vasa’s waterlogged wood required constant spraying of polyethylene glycol; otherwise the wood would quickly dry out and fall apart.

Archival footage of Vasa’s 1961 salvage operation, courtesy Vasamuseet YouTube channel.

Vasa was moved to its current home, the Vasa Museum (or Vasamuseet, in the original Swedish) in 1990, the story of which is an interesting read.  The Vasa is still under restoration since the polyethylene glycol continues to slowly dry, and will for many years to come. We hope to have the opportunity to visit the Vasa someday ourselves; it’s truly remarkable. Here’s a complete visual timeline of the Vasa’s journey. For more information on the other exhibitions at the Vasa Museum, click here.

Vasa Museum official website

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Shelby Cobra Museum, Las Vegas

Watch These Amazing Cars Get Restored in Real Time

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Carroll Shelby had a vision, and he worked hard to make that vision come true. The Shelby Cobra is a staple of American muscle car power and road prowess. Mr. Shelby’s numerous contributions to the American auto industry are numerous, so it’s only fitting that a museum exists to honor his life’s work.

Las Vegas is known for a lot of things, but it’s also a fitting home to this museum, just off the Strip. Officially known as The Shelby Heritage Center, this massive building not only houses vintage collectibles and phenomenal reproductions, but also an entire garage dedicated to restoring these amazing cars. You can watch them while they work.

Admission is free and guided tours are available on most days. No reservations required. You can learn more about tours here. The Center also has a store where you can buy official Shelby memorabilia.

Even if you’re not an avid car fan, this is a definite bucket list item that must be checked off. There’s more to a Shelby than just the car; there’s an amazing history of a man and a company whose impact reached far beyond the road. This is a must for any road trip through Nevada or a weekend getaway in America’s lovable Sin City.

LINKS
The Shelby Heritage Center, Las Vegas

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Tour an Old Mine in the Back of a Restaurant. No, really.

Back of the Bar, Then Take a Right.

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How do we put this? Well…there’s an old silver mine in the back of a bar in Virginia City, Nevada.

Huh, that was easier than we thought.

Virginia City is a neat old town. Found in the hills of Northern Nevada, 45 minutes from Reno, this old mining town was critical to Nevada when it achieved statehood 150 years ago, helping to give it the name “The Silver State”.

Mining was and still is a HUGE industry in Nevada. But many mines run their course and then they’re sealed, forgotten or, in this case, turned into a museum with walk-through tours.

Enter The Best and Belcher Mine. It’s the location that got our attention. You see, the mine is literally in the back of the famous Ponderosa Saloon in Virginia City. And by “the back”, we mean that you walk in, buy a ticket for the tour, and you enter the mine through what looks like a cellar door at the back of the building. Just casually going to the bar, getting a bite to eat, check out the old mine. Just another day.

We got a real kick out of it. In historical context, it actually makes a lot of sense because the Ponderosa Saloon is in a building that once housed a bank. Virginia City has a lot of cool history like this.

The 25-minute tour is really cool. The mine is well preserved and full of old mining equipment from back in the day, plus some neon-colored…uh…rocks? See the last pic in the gallery below to figure that one out. You’ll get a feel for what it was like to work in such crazy conditions all those years ago, all in the name of the invincible dollar.

We included a couple photos, but we don’t want to spoil it for you. We promise it will be worth the trip.

Links
Information on Mine Tours in Virginia City
Ponderosa Saloon

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More to Explore in Northern Manhattan. Meet The Cloisters.

Welcome to The Cloisters!

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Nestled into the woods of northern Manhattan’s Fort Tryon Park is a place that looks out of place for a city like New York. At first glance, The Cloisters—officially, The Met Cloisters, under the Metropolitan Museum of Art—could easily make you think you’ve arrived at an ancient Italian villa. But no, The Cloisters was built in modern times, borrowing heavily from medieval European influences.

Home to countless pieces of medieval art and artifacts, The Cloisters is a sight to be seen inside and out. Need a break from the museum? The gardens and views of the Hudson River are astounding on a nice sunny day.

We’ll save the pieces of art and artifacts for you to see for yourself–the stunning views at The Cloisters should be enough to entice you to visit. The pieces on display are centuries old.

You’d never think that this place is just a short subway ride away from Midtown.

LINKS
The Met Cloisters official website


Become an UndiscoveredWanderings Guest Poster! We always enjoy hearing from our readers and welcome you to send us your travel stories through our Share Your Travels page. We’ll always publish under your name. Your contributions help make UndiscoveredWanderings possible.

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Mark Twain Saloon: Icon from the Old West

Preserving Times Past

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While we’re on the subject of Mark Twain, whose final resting place we visited last week, we also wanted to talk about how popular he was, well, everywhere. A real American legend, his time in the West cannot be understated. He spent a considerable amount of that time in Nevada, so it’s no surprise his image still lives on there to this day.

Enter the Mark Twain Casino & Saloon in Virginia City, Nevada. We discovered this place after our visit to the Republic of Molossia. Virginia City is an “Old West” town. Despite being a modern place where people live and go about their lives, it does an excellent job of preserving its heritage and historical image, complete with old-style boardwalks. The Twain Saloon is rich in historical relics, too; it’s a great place to settle down after a long day, have a drink, and enjoy the sunset. Coming into town late? That’s OK–it’s open 24 hours.

The Saloon does a great job of blending historical pieces and details–like an antique cash register and chandeliers–with modern amenities. The Old West of Americana lives on here!

LINKS
Mark Twain Saloon & Casino
More Virginia City Saloons

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