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Mysterious Shelby Farms: The Case of the Vacant Vikings

Shelby Farms Park covers over 4,500 acres in Memphis, Tennessee making it one of the largest urban parks in the United States. The land has hosted everything from a commune in the 1800s to a penal farm. For fifteen years I have run the roads, trails, woods, and wetlands in baking heat and bitter cold. The stories, rare photos, and never-before-seen videos are mine. You do not need to believe what I am about to tell you, you only need know that I was there.

Who Discovered America?

Apparently modern research, a survey of ancient maps, archaeological digs, and DNA testing have conclusively proven that EVERYBODY discovered America. Wanderers from Mongolia, sailors from China, explorers from Italy, Leif Eriksson and his Viking cohorts, and, of course, Saint Brendan and the Irish all found their way to this oft-discovered land.

Want to know more? Check out this book by Russell Freedman, Who Was First: Discovering the Americas. New York: Clarion Books, 2007.

Vikings and Shelby Farms?

Could Shelby Farms possibly shed light on this inimitable mystery? Is it in the realm of possibility that some evidence of bygone explorers may yet remain in the confines of the forested dominion? Only the runners of the deep woods know the secrets of the forest.

Somewhere on the Wilderness Loop Trail, Along the Wolf River

I was running in a new section of the park for me. I had not run there for several years since some major flooding had changed the trails in that area. My major focus was staying on the footpath and out of the Wolf River which loomed beneath me. Suddenly along my left, I made out a strange shape. Upraised neck, majestic head, long curved tail as if the dragons still roamed the earth. I was reminded of the English monks at Lindisfarne off the northeastern coast of England in the 790s when, as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle reported, dragons appeared and then came the Viking raiders. Could the Vikings have somehow also made it as far as the Wolf River in America? You decide.

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Through DNA testing my ancestors supposedly came to England from Northern Europe. Maybe they were Vikings, who knows. So if the Vikings were the ones to discover America and my ancestors were Vikings…then I guess I discovered America. Or at least I found this really cool tree while running in the woods.

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