Unfinished Business: The Williamsport, Pa. Whispering Giant – Woapalanee

Unfinished Business: The Williamsport, Pa. Whispering Giant – Woapalanee

In 2015, I took part in the Team Strange Whispering Giants Grand Tour. The tour brought riders around the country to visit Peter Wolf Toth‘s beautifully carved statues depicting local Native Americans.

Wacinton in Paducah, Kentucky – October 2015

When I reached Williamsport, Pennsylvania in July 2015 to visit the Giant Woapalanee that was installed in the park, I was disappointed to find that he was missing. All that was left was a pedestal and a plaque. As it turned out, I’d missed him by just a few weeks.

But, what happened to him? Would he be back?

Looking around the web, it became clear that the Giant had suffered extensive interior damage. Ultimately, it was dangerous to leave him in place because he might collapse. Though the carving was a well-loved town fixture, it ended up in a mulch pile with no immediate plans for repair. That is until this guy stepped in to save him.


Based on that post, I took a look at the Thomas Taber Museum website. I thought for sure that such a grand piece of artwork would be prominently displayed. My giddy hopefulness quickly fizzled. Though there were 3 nicely carved small Woapolanee pieces, there was no Whispering Giant anywhere on the museum’s site.

So, I dropped a quick tweet:


You’ll probably think I’m ridiculous, but I actually woohoo-ed when I read the reply.

Firstly, I’m happy to know that there were people in Williamsport who cared enough to keep Woapalanee from being termite-chow and returning to the Earth. Perhaps that is ultimately the wooden carving’s rightful, natural place, but selfishly, I want the work to live, to inspire and to be enjoyed.

Secondly, and I hadn’t considered this before, but I deeply appreciate the people out there in the world who take the time to write down their experiences. Without this man writing about everyday goings-on in Williamsport, I would’ve had no idea where to look for information about the missing Giant.

Some people may write off personal blogging as useless time-filler about what you ate for lunch but, the people who do it, whether they know it or not, contribute to documenting contemporary life. I’m going to try to remember that when I feel like people on the other side of my blog are rolling their eyes at the stuff I stop and take photographs of. If just one person finds it useful – be it for a laugh, inspiration or something else, then I will have done something good.

Now… I’ve got to go see about a Giant!

6 Replies to “Unfinished Business: The Williamsport, Pa. Whispering Giant – Woapalanee”

  1. I appreciate your posts for it was your writings that connected me with the Whispering Giants. The first time I encountered a WG, I didn’t recognize it. I was riding through IL and stopped at Starving Rock State Park. There were so many carvings that the significance of this one was lost on me. The second opportunity, however, I did not miss. On the same trip (it was cross-country) I was riding through Winslow AZ (such a fine sight to see) and caught the WG out of the corner of my eye. We doubled back to confirm it. It was majestic and the setting was amazing. Since then, I’ve shared the secret of the WG with my friends and it has become a motorcycle scavenger hunt for us! Thank you for sharing… for without your posts, the Whispering Giants will still be a secret to me!

    1. Follow a couple of blogs and find most illuminating and a valued travel Intel source. Somehow more credible than the average mag article regardless of the genre. Something about the motivation I suppose? Anything but a bore …
      Thanks to all the Bloggers

  2. I’ve been meaning to ride up to Williamsport. Maybe I’ll head that way and scout things out for you — make sure they didn’t put a little plastic model in its place before you ride all the way out here.

    I must admit, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen any whispering giants, muffler men or any of the other roadside things you post. I must be sleeping at the switch…

    1. oh! well! If you do happen to be hanging around the Williamsport bus station – I’d be forever grateful for the heads up.And if you do see the Giant, I hope you like it 🙂

      Our antennas are just tuned-in to different things. Same joy, different reason.

  3. Stopped by the whispering giant in Dunkirk, NY while out on the bike. Thanks for bring these to my attention. I will try to visit more of them in my travels.

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