Monday, February 9, 2009

Wisconsin Concrete Park

We originally visited the concrete park in mid September 2003

My mom, husband and I were on our way to Bayfield, Wisconsin and the Apostle Islands one evening when our headlights glinted off something alongside the road. We didn't think much of it, but on our way back home a few days later we had a bit more light left in the day, and were quite surprised by what we saw.
The Wisconsin Concrete Park in Phillips, Wisconsin is a collection of over 200 concrete sculptures built by the retired lumberjack Fred Smith.
Fred Smith, a lumberjack, was born on September 20, 1886 in northern Wisconsin to German immigrants.
In 1936, he and two other men, John and Albert Raskie, built the Rock Garden Tavern on Route 13 just outside of Phillips. It was during the construction of the tavern that Smith began to become interested in sculpting.
After Smith retired from the lumberjack trade, he took over the operation of the Rock Garden Tavern.
Over the next several years, Smith created over 200 sculptures which range over a 3 1/2 acre site next door to the tavern.
There are characters and scenes from fiction and history, like Paul Bunyan and Abe Lincoln and the chariot race scene from Ben Hur.
Smith built the figures on wooden frames, wrapped them in wire and then covered them with cement and embedded the broken glass, bottle bottoms and beer caps, among other items, into the sculptures.
What a neat discovery this was for us, and it really sparked the whole Roadside Trail Mix style of traveling we've since adopted.

Wisconsin Concrete Park
N8236 South Hwy 13
Phillips, WI 54555

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