Pierre the Voyageur needed a hand after last week’s big storm.
He could use a wrist and an elbow, too.
The towering statue in Two Harbors, Minn., lost its entire right forearm to high winds that raked the Lake Superior shoreline on Tuesday. The same storm spawned early tornadoes, downed trees and knocked out power to thousands of people across the state.
It was too much for the 57-year-old statue of the buckskin-clad explorer who stands watch along Hwy. 61 in front of the Earthwood Inn. Pierre’s right arm, and the paddle it was clutching, crashed to the ground, and hotel staff are still puzzled over how to put Pierre back together again.
Until then, they plan to use as many bedsheets as necessary to make a sling fit for a 20-foot-tall French Canadian fur trapper.
“He will be fixed,” promised Earthwood Inn employee Jen Trinkhaus.
Pierre was the windstorm’s only casualty at the inn.
Earthwood Inn owners Sandra Fritz and Eric Potts are planning to reattach the arm eventually, but will probably wait for warmer weather. They aren’t planning a fundraiser to help with the repairs, although donations would be gladly accepted, Trinkhaus said.
Earthwood Inn employees plan to post photos of Pierre in his giant sling on the inn’s Facebook page.
Pierre — clad in a coat and thigh-high boots, but, puzzlingly, no pants — stood for years in front of a museum and gift shop near the Voyageur Motel. It was refurbished and installed at its current home in 2011.
News that Pierre was not just pantless but armless made headlines statewide. But it wasn’t the first weather-related casualty among Minnesota’s giant statuary.
Last August, a storm swept an 18-foot-tall statue of Babe the Blue Ox off his feet and sent him tumbling across the parking lot of Paul Bunyan Land in Brainerd. Babe was quickly righted with the help of a fork lift, although it took some patchwork to repair the dings and punctures in his blue fiberglass hide.
Pierre was constructed out of a motley assortment of materials, ranging from stucco and chicken wire to concrete, railroad ties and old telephone poles. It’s unclear what it will take to reunite him with the arm that used to jut out at a jaunty angle, red paddle in hand.
Other Minnesota communities are also tallying the damage from last week’s storms.
It was a wild weather week that started with springlike temps — 60s in some parts of the state — that plunged below freezing in a matter of hours. The temperature whiplash touched off tornadoes near Zimmerman in Sherburne County and Clarks Grove in Freeborn County. They were the earliest tornadoes ever reported in the state, according to the National Weather Service.
Jennifer Brooks 612-673-4008