On the Trail of the Whispering Giants
What is a Whispering Giant?
The Whispering Giants are a collection of sculptures created by artist Peter Wolf Toth. Toth, who was born in Hungary, began his mission to create a statue honoring indigenous peoples, who were often victims of injustice, in North America. The project began in the 1970s with each of the 50 states receiving at least one sculpture from Toth throughout the subsequent decades. Each Whispering Giant statue is carved from a single piece of wood, and can stand up to an impressive 40 feet tall. The only known exception is the first statue – a rock carving in La Jolla, California.
Where are the Whispering Giants?
The original project slated at least one Whispering Giant for every US state. Some states like Illinois, Massachusetts, and North Carolina for example are fortunate enough to have multiple sculptures. However, time and the elements aren’t always kind. As a result, the loss of some Giants happened along the way. It is unclear if there is a single reliable source for the exact count of the remaining sculptures on display.
This is not my map, but this is also available:
I would strongly recommend cross-checking more than one information source if you decide to hit the road and visit any of the Whispering Giants.
Whispering Giant Photos and Field Notes
My personal journey to visit the Whispering Giants started in 2015 when I participated in the Team Strange Whispering Giants Grand Tour. It was then that I pinned every known location of a Whispering Giant to my own Google Map. Now, whenever I am close to one of the sculpture locations, I try to make it a point to visit.
Between the weather, pests, and their age, we can’t always count on them being there for our next visit. Revisiting them over time or documenting their condition seems like a worthwhile effort.
I hope you enjoy this pics from along the way.
Winslow, Arizona is probably most commonly known for being part of the Route 66 lore and the whole “standin’ on a corner” phenomenon but, did you know that just around the corner from that corner is a Whispering Giant?
Standing tall and in seemingly good shape out in the unrelenting sun, you’ll find this giant standing not on a corner on W. 1st Street.
Chief Little Owl is on display in Bethany Beach, Delaware.
Notes: Original statue by Peter Toth was removed because of decay. A second statue was carved by Dennis Beach and lasted until about 2000 and removed. The present statue was carved by Peter Toth and dedicated in 2002.DCSchumaker.com
Tall Oak in Troy, Kansas stands 27 feet tall on the grounds of the Doniphan County Courthouse.
It isn’t hyperbole when I say that as the 35-foot Wacinton came into view that the word “wow,” involuntarily escaped from my lips. Hands down, he is my favorite Whispering Giant that I have visited.
In November 2015, a large portion of the beautiful headdress of the statue fell to the ground and required repair, as reported by a story from KFVS 12. This occurred a mere month after I took photos of the statue in October 2015.
Peter Wolf Toth restored and fortified Wacinton in 2016. Joshua Roberts reported on the statue’s rededication in a Paducah Sun article in 2017.
In 2022, Nanticoke received some TLC by Peter Toth – features video:
My very fist visit to a Whispering Giant in 2015 was Omiskanoagwiak in Springfield, Massachusetts.
This is Enisketomp in Plymouth, Massachusetts. You’ll find him located on a pedestal at a rest stop on Route 3 strangely enough in front of a McDonalds. This setting seemed to me like a bit of a bummer when I was standing there looking at the piece. Dozens of people just walked by it without a second thought.
There was something about this peculiar setting that made me think of the song I used to hear my dad sing when I was little about Kaw-Liga the Wooden Indian. Thinking about it even now makes me feel melancholy and sad inside my belly.
Ong-Gwe-Ohn-Weh of Dunkirk, New York.
Sequoyah stands outside of the Museum of the Cherokee Indian in Cherokee, NC.
Sequoyah the man had a very interesting life worth reading about.
While touring around Pennsylvania in the summer of 2015, I made a detour to visit Akron, Ohio to see the Whispering Giant there. His name was Rotaynah – the Tuscarora word for chief.
I recall at the time it was hot and muggy and I kept second guessing my decision to ride a 150 miles round trip out of the way on a boring highway ride. But, when I saw the statue in person, those feelings subsided. The sight was arresting.
When I visited, I noticed some restoration work done on the base of the figure. I was optimistic that it would help ensure its longevity, but unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. The statue was gone a mere three years later.
News 5 Cleveland reported that in 2018, Rotaynah was unfortunately removed. I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to see it.
While looking for more info about his I came across this article from the Akron Beacon Journal which noted that Rotaynah also had feathers up until 2011!
Pro Tip: Make the detour.
Dating back to 1973, this statue in a Sharon, Pennsylvania rest stop is one of the earlier carvings. He is statue number 6.
My visit took place in the summer of 2015. At that time significant rot and previous attempts at repair or stabilization were apparent. I hope he’s still standing.
Tracking down the Williamsport Whispering Giant didn’t go exactly as I’d initially planned. On my first trip through the area, I was participating in a rally, and I decided I didn’t have time to make a pitstop, so I rolled through town skipping the pin on my map.
Little did I know that by skipping the stop, my next trip to Williamsport to see the giant specifically would end in disappointment. I literally missed seeing the giant by a matter of weeks. Woapalanee was removed from his perch because of rot.
When I first started searching for information, it was a challenge to determine if the statue was still standing or if it had been destroyed. However, in the fall of 2017, I was able to use the power of the internet to track down the repaired sculpture at its new location in the Williamsport bus station.
It was evident that the statue had undergone repairs, including a shorter base and a new stain. I’m optimistic that these alterations will make the statue more resilient against the elements in the long run.
Enishkeetompauog Narragansett, RI
Chief Grey Lock in Burlington, Vermont stands 24 feet tall to the top of his feathers. Aside from the obvious split, at the time of my visit in the fall of 2015, he was in generally good shape overall.
Tucked away under a canopy of trees at the curiously-named Mount Trashmore Park in Virginia Beach, Virginia, you’ll find a Whispering Giant.
Side Notes – Take the Picture
In a recent post Sighting: Patch Whisky and Ghostbeard, I mentioned hanging on to photos for later because I might “need” them? Well, my very first unaware encounter with a Whispering Giant was the perfect example of that. I snapped a picture of one while sitting at a traffic light in Worland, Wyoming. It was a decade later that I pulled that photo out of it’s dusty corner, recalling what I’d seen. Take the picture!
More Posts about Whispering Giants
- Whispering Giant of Troy, Kansas
- On the Trail of the Whispering Giants
- Whispering Giant: Sequoyah of North Carolina
- Whispering Giant: Chief Woapalanne of Williamsport, Pennsylvania
- Unfinished Business: The Williamsport, Pa. Whispering Giant - Woapalanee
- Whispering Giants Grand Tour: Wacinton of Paducah, Kentucky
- A Sunday Ride to Burlington, Vermont
- Whispering Giants Motorcycle Grand Tour: Northeastern Round-up, So Far
- Whispering Giants Grand Tour: Ong-Gwe-Ohn-Weh in Dunkirk, NY
- Whispering Giants Grand Tour: Williamsport, Pa. Giant is Missing
- Whispering Giants Grand Tour: Enishkeetompauog and Enisketomp
- Whispering Giants Grand Tour: Omiskanoagwiak - Springfield, MA
- Planning: Whispering Giants Grand Tour
- The Whispering Giants Grand Tour