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Replica Cardiff Giant.

Replica Cardiff Giant

Field review by the editors.

Fort Dodge, Iowa

One of the best pranks of the 19th century was the Cardiff Giant, a "petrified man" unearthed in upstate New York that was in fact a rather badly carved statue that had been buried to fool gullible people and make a lot of money (which it did). The giant was carved from a block of gypsum quarried from Fort Dodge, chosen because Fort Dodge gypsum has blue streaks running through it that resemble human veins.

Replica Cardiff Giant.

The Giant was eventually returned to Iowa, where it stayed until 1947. Then it was sold to the New York State Historical Association for $30,000.

Fort Dodge had wanted the Giant, but didn't have the cash. It did, however, have plenty of blue-streaked gypsum -- so sculptor Cliff Carlson was hired to carve an exact Cardiff Giant replica for only $2,100. A special display room was built at Fort Dodge's Frontier Village, where Carlson carved the statue in front of visitors to the attraction (He later went on to create a 76-foot-tall cornstalk in another iowa town).

Replica Cardiff Giant.

Because gypsum is fragile -- easily damaged by movement or exposure to temperature extremes -- the Fort Dodge Cardiff Giant has never moved from the spot where it was carved in the summer of 1972.

At the time he was sculpting the Cardiff Giant, Carlson was asked if it bothered him as a professional to recreate such a poorly proportioned work of art. He said no, but he had to remind himself not to do a good job.

Replica Cardiff Giant

Fort Museum and Frontier Village

Museum Rd, Fort Dodge, IA
Fort Museum and Frontier Village. From Hwy 169, turn east onto Hwy 20/S. Kenyon Rd. Drive sraight through the stoplight. At the next intersection turn left (north) onto Museum Rd. You'll see the Fort on the left.
W-Su 11-5 (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Adults $10
RA Rates:
Major Fun
Save to My Sights

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