Hiawatha: The World's Tallest Indian

In the Michigan Upper Peninsula town of Ironwood stands a giant -- a 52 foot tall fiberglass statue of Hiawatha, leader of the Iroquois Confederacy.  This statue was erected by the Ironwood Chamber of Commerce in 1964 in hopes of attracting visitors to Ironwood's downtown businesses.










The Big Indian is one of the few roadside attractions I remember from my childhood. It probably helps that there are photos to help me remember. Maybe I remember the photos more than the visit itself. I do, however, remember walking up those stairs. Like many things from my childhood, they are bigger in my memory than in real life.


Ben standing on Hiawatha's foot in 1974.

Regardless of whether the photos of the childhood visit or the visit itself are stronger in my mind, they do example the value in photographing the places one visits. Take photos. Put them somewhere you and the others involved can see them. Photos are great cognitive aids that can help retain and recall memories -- memories of both what's in the photo and the experiences around it.


Sophia standing on Hiawatha's foot in 2015.

Although the Hiawatha statue was not exactly on the way to our next destination, memories of the childhood visit begged me to make a detour to Ironwood. Hiawatha was still standing there as I remembered from my visit four decades ago -- only this time, a little bit less magical. I am happy to have gone out of the way for a new visit and new memories.