backroads new york mills sculpture

Paris’ Eiffel Tower is 1,063 feet tall — approximately the same height as an 81-story building. The New York Mills, Minn. replica of the tower is about the height of a 10-year-old child and can be found just outside town in a U.S. Highway 10 wayside rest and sculpture park.

Including the tiny tower, there are two dozen sculptures in the park. The most intricate and detailed artwork is the corn patch. Each ear of corn, seemingly made from copper, has embedded amongst the kernels tiny tools, a cow, and even a corn plant. It’s fun examining the ears to see what there is to discover.

Vining, Minn. sculptor Ken Nyborg’s 17-foot tall black tractor, made from over 1,000 pieces of steel, is gargantuan compared to a tractor embedded in an ear of corn. Nyborg’s tractor has become a New York Mills icon — just like the Eiffel Tower has for Paris. Among other places around the Otter Tail County town, the tractor is found on the stationary and web site of the New York Mills Cultural Center. The Center’s logo features an image of Nyborg’s tractor pulling the words as if they were a farm implement: “Cultivating the arts.”

“The tractor is recognized as a symbol representing New York Mills and its rural heritage,” Cheryl Bannes, the Cultural Center’s program director said. “It represents and recognizes our farming community and its heritage. As one local farmer said, "New York Mills and the Cultural Center represent the perfect intersection of arts and agriculture." 

In addition to the tractor and corn patch, there is a flamboyant rooster, a replica of Duluth’s lift bridge, and a gaggle of yellow dinosaurs who have rusted a little over time, as is appropriate for dinosaurs. There is also a flock of tubular bluebirds with feet made from concrete reinforcing rod. They are, we think, in some sort of struggle with each other … but further examination might prove otherwise. If you are traveling on Highway 10 in central Minnesota, do stop and see for yourself.

Next year the sculpture park will be 25 years old. As part of the celebration, the New York Mills Sculpture Garden is collaborating with the Franconia Sculpture Garden (in Shafer, Minn.) as part of a multi-state sculpture tour based on land, land use, and the area’s history. Bannes says more about that will be on the Center’s website (www.kulcher.org) as it gets closer to 2022.

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