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Lind: Case of the wandering statue

It's the case of the wandering statue. It began when Neighbors carried inquiries about a statue of a Native American that stood on Broadway in Fargo years ago. Several readers who knew the statue's background responded, saying it was cast in iron...

It's the case of the wandering statue.

It began when Neighbors carried inquiries about a statue of a Native American that stood on Broadway in Fargo years ago.

Several readers who knew the statue's background responded, saying it was cast in iron in 1908 in New York City, shipped to Fargo and stood on Broadway until the 1940s, when a truck ran into it.

Over the years, it was repaired and moved around. Then it disappeared, and readers wanted to know what happened to it.

Now more information has come in, including some from a former Fargo policeman who thinks he's the only one still around who has a good answer to that question.

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'Captain Pipe'

First, here's Curt Eriksmoen of Fargo, who writes the "Did You Know That ... " North Dakota history column for The Forum:

Curt went on the Internet and found that the statue is of Chief Hopocan, which stands for "tobacco pipe." He became known as Captain Pipe and was a leader of the Delaware Indians during and after the American Revolution.

The first statue of him was made of wood around 1860, used as a cigar-store Indian, and became the model for iron statues, one of which wound up in Fargo.

Other Captain Pipe statues still exist in Tilton, N.H., Barberton, Ohio, and, as mentioned here earlier, Schenectady, N.Y., where it stands in the town square. There's even one in Peru.

Fargo-Schenectady ties

Concerning the Fargo statue:

Dave Metzgar of Rome, N.Y., and formerly of Moorhead, writes that his grandfather worked for the Welu Dental Co. on the top floor of DeLendrecie's department store in Fargo.

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"Occasionally, on a nice summer day," Dave writes, "I would be allowed to walk from our Elmwood Apartments in Moorhead to meet my grandfather so I could walk home with him after he finished work.

"Because I wasn't allowed to go upstairs to where he worked, our meeting place was the statue you wrote about. Thanks for the wonderful 60-plus-year-old memory."

Dave has another connection with this story through his son who lives near Schenectady, so, he says, "We know exactly where the town square is you are referring to (in connection with the statue) and have been there many times.

"Our world," Dave observes, "is becoming smaller with each passing day."

Sad ending

Now back to the Fargo statue. And Bob Olson.

Bob, of Fargo, retired in 1985 after 35 years with the Fargo Police Department, with downtown Fargo as his beat.

Bob says the statue was stored in the Fargo Street Department's garage for some time. "But Jorgen Miller (the street department superintendent) got sick and tired of it being there," had it fixed up and put outside another department building, Bob says.

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When that building was torn down, the statue was moved again, this time to one of two street department buildings on 23rd Street North.

But one day that building caught fire.

"I was dispatched to the fire," Bob says. "I was the only police officer there."

He doesn't know who cleaned up the area where the statue was stored.

"I can't believe it completely melted, since it was iron," he says. But he's sure whatever remained of it either went to the city dump grounds or to the Fargo Iron and Metal Co. to be scrapped.

Either way, Fargo's Chief Hopocan became history.

If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107; fax it to 241-5487; or email blind@forumcomm.com .

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