You may have seen the Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth or Paul Bunyan in Bemidji, highlighted in an earlier article, Best Roadside Attractions In Minnesota. There are many more statues to see and things to learn, as each statue tells a story about our state and the people who live here. Here are the five best roadside attractions.
Hermann The German
Hermann Heights Park
14 Monument St.
New Ulm, MN 56073
Price: $2.50 per person; children under 5 free with paying adult
Connect the kids to ancient history of the Roman Empire and the icon of Germanic unity and freedom with a visit to a 27-foot towering statue of the real Hermann. Historians consider his leadership to have handed the Empire its greatest defeat, demolishing three whole legions and driving the Romans out of Germany. New Ulm asserted its pride of Teutonic heritage by erecting the statue in 1897.
US Highway 169 and Highway 73
Chisholm, MN 55719
See one of the larger freestanding statues in the U.S. at Chisholm. The 36-foot-tall iron miner made of brass and copper stands on an enormous stack of steel, making the entire structure a whopping 85 feet tall. “The Emergence of Man Through Steel,” was designed and sculpted by artist Jack Anderson and dedicated in 1987. This enormous rendering of an 1880s miner is a tribute to “the Mesabi, Vermilion, Cuyuna and Gogebic Ranges’ men of steel,” a plaque on the base declares.
On the Western Shore of Battle Lake
Battle Lake, MN 56515
Chief “The Vulture” Wenonga stands 23 feet tall in tribute to the fierce 1795 battle involving 50 Ojibwe warriors against Dakota rivals. Only a few Ojibwe survived. Chief Wenonga stands tall in full headdress, necklace, leather pants, leather fringes and moccasins. He greets all with his right hand raised in a friendly gesture, but his left hand holds a hatchet. The town of Battle Lake built this remembrance of the brave chief in 1979 and celebrates Wenonga Days in July of every year.
South Shore of Lake Agnes
Alexandria, MN 56308
Viking warrior Big Ole stands 28 feet tall as a tribute to Minnesota’s Norwegian-American heritage. His shield declares “Birthplace of America,” perpetuating the notion that Norsemen explored the area in 1362. While the historical validity of the Kensington Runestone is tenuous, the 200-pound artifact and its entire story can be seen in a museum in Alexandria. Nevertheless, historians have well verified Leif Erickson’s voyage to the new world centuries ahead of latecomer Christopher Columbus. Gordon Schumaker sculpted this fiberglass statue for the 1965 New York World’s Fair.
Smokey Bear Park
International Falls, MN 56649
Smokey Bear stands 26 feet tall, holding a shovel with two charming bear cubs at his side. Built in 1954, this statue can be deemed a tribute to the forests of northern Minnesota and its significance for tourism, logging and the paper industry. Its creator is also Gordon Schumaker.
Related: Best Scenic Highways In Minnesota
Robin Johnson was born in Annandale, Minn. and graduated from Richfield High School and then the University of Minnesota where he studied Political Science, Business and Industrial Relations. A writer for Examiner.com, he also consults with a variety of organizations and individuals helping them develop and grow. His work can be found at Examiner.com.