Footprints in the Sand

The inspiration for the Mississippi River Sculpture Park came with footprints in the sand by the river on St. Feriole Island at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin  I wondered “Who stood here before me?”  Then I began to learn about some of the people who had come to this island from ages past, people who had used these rivers as travelways, and people of the present who still live by the rivers. 
I conceived of a place where the the people’s stories might come together,  where a Mastodon Hunter might share his story with the traveling Victorian Lady, and Fr. Samuel Mazzuchelli could share his experiences with Fr. Jacques Marquette.  What would Black Hawk say about the Mound Builder to the Dousman Children?  People from12,000 years of history could come together around a fire circle to tell their stories and share their experiences and beliefs with one another.  This is the story of Prairie du Chien and this confluence region where the peaceful Wisconsin River joins the great Mississippi River, a story of living history.  I imagined this sculpture park as a gathering of people from the pages of history and prehistory as an author might imagine an historical novel, historically authentic with enough artistic license to bring vitality to these diverse lives.  The present day community of Prairie du Chien reflects this story in it’s diversity.  This story is about our roots and our nation’s roots, and significant for the understanding of world history.
Because I am a sculptor, as I learned about these people who came from all corners of the world, I began to make clay models of them.  And now, as the community  supports the work, we are able to enlarge the figures to life size and have them cast in bronze for a permanent monument so that many many generations of visitors may see and touch our story.
This is a unique story and a unique sculpture park.  There is nothing like it anywhere else in the world.
Florence Bird, master sculptor