Minnesota Museum of the Mississippi and other Natural Wonders

Wisconsin Concrete Park - Phillips, Wisconsin

N8236 State Highway 13, Phillips, WI

Fred Smith

Fred Smith spent most of his life working in the north woods of Wisconsin as a logger. In 1936 he built and ran the Rock Garden Tavern, a rustic place made of concrete and field stones. After his retirement in 1949 he was inspired to experiment building other things with concrete and the many beer bottles from the tavern. So one by one he peopled the pine forest around the tavern with tall figures covered with broken glass and mirrors. Many of the figures represent the trades of the north woods such as logging, mining, hunting and fishing. Others represent specific historical and legendary figures of Abraham Lincoln, Sacagawea and Paul Bunyan.

After a stroke in 1964, Smith was no longer able to continue work on the park. He passed away in 1976 and soon after, a windstorm devastated the park, knocking down trees and concrete figures. Since then, the Kohler Foundation and the Friends of Fred Smith have lovingly restored the figures and they are now the pride of Phillips.

Photos of the park before it was hit by the 1976 storm.

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