Pierre the Pantsless Voyageur
Two Harbors, Minnesota
Along the northern shore of Lake Superior in a small park stands this statue, recalling a time when giant French explorers navigated the wilderness waterways. Pierre is 20 feet tall and blocky, like the cubist Paul Bunyan in Bemidji. Instead of eyes he has slits, a slight grin -- and no pants.
We first saw Pierre back when he stood vigilantly in front of the Voyageur Motel, also in Two Harbors. At first we thought that Pierre's awkward condition was an example of false economy, the compromise of some long-forgotten motel manager who didn't want to pay for another can of paint for the space between Pierre's short jacket and his high boots.
But old post cards (Pierre's been here since 1960) and a closer look at our own photos reveal that the Voyageur has eyes in his slits -- which once glowed and moved. His head used to pivot from side to side. He used to "talk" as well, thanks to a motel employee in a hidden booth. His canoe paddle disappeared sometime between 1998 and 2006. But he never, ever had any pants.
Pierre's canoe paddle is back, along with an empty canoe for visitor photos. He is also reported to be talking again.