Luther College Moment in History #56

As the thirties, the decade of depression, tribulation, and angry revolt, drew to a close, few looked forward to another World War. Possibly the visits of European royalty to the United States in 1939 were more deeply motivated than historians have yet recorded. In any event, the visit of Crown Prince Olav and Crown Princess Märtha of Norway stirred tremendous interest. Their only stop in Iowa was at Decorah, May 6 and 7, 1939. They were met at the Leiv Eriksson Bridge on their arrival form La Crosse and escorted by the Luther College Concert Band to the Winneshiek Hotel, where they were welcomed by Governor George A. Wilson. In the evening, at a public meeting in C. K. Preus Gymnasium, Crown Prince Olav was given the honorary degree of Doctor of Literature. Sunday, May 8, the royal couple, after a visit to the Norwegian-American Historical Museum, attended divine services in First Lutheran Church. Then they were guests at a luncheon, and the crown prince addressed the crowd from the steps of the gymnasium before departing. This visit drew the largest crowds in the history of Decorah. The sentiment of those present was perhaps best expressed by one old Viking as he shook hands with the prince, "Det var godt du kom, Olav." ("It was nice of you to come, Olav.")

[Luther College 1861-1961, David T. Nelson, p 279]

Photo: Crown Prince Olav and Princess Märtha exit C. K. Preus Gymnasium during their 1939 visit to Decorah.