Hiawatha Indian statue, Ironwood, Michigan.

Hiawatha, World's Largest Indian

Field review by the editors.

Ironwood, Michigan

A big Indian is always a good reason to take a vacation detour. We've pulled over for many a mighty warrior, but for years missed crossing paths with Michigan's legendary Hiawatha statue, "World's Tallest and Largest Indian." That's what it says right on his plaque.

Despite Ironwood's boast, Hiawatha is technically not the World's Tallest Indian; that honor goes to a skinny giant in Skowhegan, Maine, which stretches skyward another ten feet. But Hiawatha's sturdy proportions and outfit make him more photogenic, at least to our cameras.

Hiawatha was built by Gordon Displays in St. Paul, Minnesota, and funded by Charlie Gotta, an Ironwood car dealer. In June 1964 Hiawatha was trucked to Ironwood and erected on the site of the Old Norrie Iron Mine. The statue's location was intended to entice tourists through downtown. No easy Interstate offramp to this guy.

Hiawatha rises into the "giant" category at 52 feet (though his base may account for 2 of those feet). He weighs nine tons, including anchoring internal steelwork, and is engineered to withstand 140 mph winds.

Hiawatha's lantern jaw is uplifted in stately indifference to his antlike admirers below, and his skin is diaper-rash red, which we suspect is an artistic exaggeration.


Down the block on Suffolk Street, a neon Hiawatha head glows outside Olkie's Bar. Although everyday Ironwood otherwise seems uninterested in its mightiest resident, the statue was repainted and restored in 2004 -- and again in 2019 -- so Hiawatha can continue to impress future generations of Big Indian fans.

Hiawatha, World's Largest Indian

Suffolk St., Ironwood, MI
From south: US Hwy 51 north to Hurley. Right on Hwy 77 (Silver St.) into Ironwood. In a few blocks turn right on Suffolk St., which takes you to Hiawatha. From east: US Hwy 2 west into town. Left on Douglas Blvd (Business US Hwy 2). At the T bear right onto Frederick St., then an immediate left onto Suffolk St., which takes you to Hiawatha.
RA Rates:
Major Fun
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Nearby Offbeat Places

Miners Memorial MuralMiners Memorial Mural, Ironwood, MI - < 1 mi.
Vietnam Memorial Tank and HelicopterVietnam Memorial Tank and Helicopter, Hurley, WI - 1 mi.
Big Stormy Kromer CapBig Stormy Kromer Cap, Ironwood, MI - 1 mi.
In the region:
Fred Smith's Concrete Park, Phillips, WI - 55 mi.

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July 13, 2020

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