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Leif Ericson was a Norse explorer who led what was probably the first European expedition to the mainland of North America He was the son of Eric the Red who established the first settlement in Greenland Leif Ericson became the leader of this settlement after his fathers death His life was recorded in long Icelandic stories called sagas His name is also spelled Eriksson or Eiriksson Ericson was born in Iceland near what is now Budardalur His family sailed to southern Greenland about 985 and his father founded a settlement near present-day Julianehab About 999 Ericson sailed to Iceland and then to Norway where he became a Christian He returned to Greenland the following year and preached Christianity in his fathers pagan settlement Ericson sailed west from Greenland about 1002 to seek a land that had been sighted by a Norse sea captain Bjarni Herjulfsson According to the sagas Ericson and his 35 men first landed at a level stone area that he named Helluland Flat Rock Land He then sailed farther south to a heavily wooded region that he called Markland Forestland He continued south and went ashore at a place where he found grapes growing The men made wine from the grapes and Ericson named the place Vinland Wineland Some historians think the fruit may have been cranberries or gooseberries Ericson and his men spent the winter in Vinland They built a large house and a shed to protect their ship They cut logs to bring back to Greenland where trees were scarce On the return trip they rescued 15 victims of a shipwreck who gave Ericson their cargo as a reward This cargo plus the logs helped Ericson become rich Eric the Red died soon after his sons return Ericson stayed in Greenland to govern the settlement No one knows exactly where Ericson landed on his voyages because he made no maps Some historians believe he landed first on
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