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Ole Dahl's personal account of his voyage on the Nordlyset to America in 1859

- Louise Dahl Nelson / Gary Urban
This is an excerpt from a letter dated May 10, 1925 and written by Ole Dahl to his brother Gustav Dahl. It was translated into English by Louise Dahl Nelson, daughter of Gustav. The excerpt was submitted by Gary Urban

"The time came when we had to leave our home. That was in April 1859 that we left our home where we had lived for six or seven years. We went first by boat across lake Mjøsen, and then from Gjøvik to Drøbak. From there, on railroad to Christiania. Arrived there the same evening and got lodging for the night in an old dilapidated building. There we had to sleep as best we could. There were no beds, but we were glad we could rest some way. The men had to stay awake and watch the family and baggage. We stayed there, I believe, for three days, waiting to get aboard the ship. The name of the ship was Nordlyset, and the captain's name was Hansen.

Well, finally we set sail. We had no more than started then we all became sick. Father and I stood it the best. But at last we too had to get to bed, although we had lovely weather on the whole trip over. We had an abundance of food, as we were all sick half of the time, although if it hadn't been for the crew on the boat, who were so good to us, we probably would have gone hungry. We exchanged food, as what they had seemed to taste much better than our own and they liked ours better, so we got along fine on the trade. And father has a little keg that the Captain liked the contents of, so we got along fine with the whole crew.

When we came to the quarantine station where we had to be under doctors examination, we were quite well again, so they let us all through. Then we had three days sailing to reach Quebec. There were three boat loads, and each boat carried 300 passengers, so when we landed, it was pretty crowded. There was nothing but an open shed for all 900 of us, and such a rough house that was. The men had their hands full to take care of their own families. How long we stayed there I can't just remember.

But I remember we came on a big steamboat which traveled very slowly up through a big river (St. Lawrence). There were locks on the river like big doors that were controlled by machinery. So sometimes we were at the bottom of the river and sometimes high up in the air. Then we traveled on until we came to another lock and that is the way it went on, I don't remember how long. Finally, we came to a lake. Sometimes we were on a boat and sometimes on the railroad up through Canada. Finally, we came to the United States one day in June, the date I do not remember. It was in Detroit, Michigan we first arrived in the United States . . . ."

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