Sunday, September 27, 2009

Jack Salmela - Of Vikings and Voyageurs

Of Vikings and Voyageurs

by Jack Salmela

North Star Press

ISBN-10: 0-87839-288-2
ISBN-13: 978-0-87839-288-9

The voyageurs carried a lot of furs along the waterways of the north. At least at one point, they carried real treasure…and lost it. The rumor of treasure came down to the present, sparking a search that attracted both treasure hunters and historians alike. The key lay in runestones left by Vikings centuries before the voyageurs paddled their canoes on the wilderness lakes and rivers.

I’m 53 years old, live in Duluth, MN, and work as a Civil Engineer for MnDOT. I live with my wife, JoAnn, and my daughter, Annelise. JoAnn works as a physical therapist, and Anne will be a junior in high school this fall.

Of Vikings & Voyageurs,” my second novel, reflects two passions: the wilderness of the Boundary Waters / Quetico, and a strong interest in history. The first novel, “The Messiah Medallions,” was self-published in 2005, but is no longer in print. However, copies are still advertised as being available through Amazon. North Star Press has asked me to write a third book, which is now in progress.

Other writings include a collection of essays, some travel stories for the Duluth News Tribune, and one feature article for Lake Superior Magazine.

I've also presented a PowerPoint presentation on the book. The presentation is titled "European Land Claims in Central North America - the history behind the novel, OF VIKINGS & VOYAGEURS."

A clever and intriguing novel. The intelligent and memorable characters in this story endure a whitewater-like adventure dodging danger while trying to solve a mystery that crosses continents and cultures along the way to a startling climax!” – Scott F. Wolter P.G., “The Kensington Rune Stone: Compelling New Evidence”

Jack Salmela’s “Of Vikings and Voyageurs” takes readers on a two-pronged voyage of discovery: historical and geographical. The book starts 229 years ago, with voyageur Jean-Luc Trotin paddling like a madman through the notorious Hell’s Gate Rapids.

Right when you’re wondering whether Trotin will live to see another day, Salmela transports you to modern-day Duluth and a slightly less exciting adventure, as Tim Malone’s car hits a patch of ice and he almost loses control.

Like “The Da Vinci Code,” this book is a mystery complete with ancient artifacts and symbols to decode, threatening characters descended from dead scoundrels and relics from the time of Christ. Unlike Dan Brown’s famous book, “Of Vikings and Voyageurs” takes place right here in the Northland.

Malone meets the eccentric Englishman Shelby Harrington in a room “the size of a small ballroom” at the Kitchi Gammi Club in Duluth. After their meeting, Harrington notes that he is going to brave the elements with his driver, Nigel, and walk down to a restaurant called the Pickwick. “We were intrigued by its English-sounding name,” Harrington tells Malone.
Malone and his friends visit the Kensington Rune Stone Museum in Alexandria, canoe North Hegman Lake in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA) and tour a mine north of Hibbing, all in an effort to find and decode signs left from the past pointing them to knowledge and treasure — and it’s hard to tell which is more valuable in the end.

Salmela, a born-and-bred Duluthian, said he did a lot of his research at Duluth’s public libraries and gives special credit to “The Kensington Rune Stone: Compelling New Evidence,” by Scott Wolter and Richard Nielsen.

“BWCA canoeing experience was of utmost importance, especially in terms of knowing the region, its major flowages and describing the beauty of the wilderness,” he added in an e-mail to the Budgeteer.

In short, it’s a book I’d recommend to any Northlander. A good plot with plenty of twists and lots of tidbits about the land we love and live on — what better to curl up with on a wintry day up north? – Jana Peterson - Budgeteer News



  1. I look forward to reading "Of Vikings and Voyageurs". I attended the Ancient Artifact Preservation Society conference in Marquette where Jack presented his research for this book. I'm fascinated that he even found a couple things that may add to the real history, things that are not previously covered even in more scholarly tomes.

    Rick Osmon

  2. These spotlights are great- Jack is very talented!