Land of the Glass-Studded Giants

[imgbelt img=horse-mane528.jpg]Madam Toussaud has her wax museum of movie stars, and Wisconsin’s Fred
Smith recreated his superstars, too: lumberjacks, Indian guides, and giant
muskies, all made of cement.

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Smith admitted, “not even me.” 

Whatever its motivation, this vast assembly of chieftans and presidents, drunks,
dogs, clydesdales and ox-drivers is a open-air pantheon of the north
country.

Since many of his sculptures are so large, Smith had to build them in parts. He made armatures of wood, wrapped them in mink-wire and then covered them with layers of cement. For the largest pieces, Smith would pour concrete into molds dug in the ground and then, with the help of friends and neighbors, fit the limbs together and lift the figures onto prepared bases.

The tallest, standing near the center of his three-acres of statues, is of Paul Bunyan, legendary woodsman, presiding among pine trees over the scene. Nearby two real-life lumberjacks covered with red reflectors (Smith identified them as Barry Swanson and Gust Johnson) are felling a cement tree with an eight foot saw.

Kohler Foundation bought the concrete park, a timely acquisition for Sacajawea, Paul Bunyan and the rest. In February 1977 a historic wind storm blew down most of the pines Fred Smith had planted through the park and damaged over 70% of the figures. With Kohler’s team of conservators, the works were repaired and restored (many of old wooden armatures had deteriorated badly). In 1978 the park reopened and was made a gift to Price County.
faithful group of supporters who, along with the county and Kohler, support the sculpture garden. In a town of barely 1700 people, Fred Smith’s Concrete Park is a grand marvel, and the success of its preservation has been just as titanic. Visiting is free 365 days a year for giants and lesser beings alike.

A message from the Rural Assembly

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