Trail of the Whispering Giants

Trail of the Whispering Giants

As I’ve explained, I live pretty close to the Atlantic Ocean, lucky girl that I am. I lived slightly farther away when I was growing up, but still close enough to go several times each summer. Every year, we would come over the bridge that spans Assawoman Bay (yes, that really is its name) and enter Ocean City, Maryland. Then we would follow the twists and turns in the road to head to the big inlet parking lot. Almost immediately after our last turn, we would see a huge carving of an Indian head:

rsz_maryland_toth_indian

Not once did I question why it was there, or what significance it had. For me, it was just a part of Ocean City in the same way that the boardwalk was. Then about five years ago, when I was taking my Girl Scouts on a scavenger hunt, I learned more. One of the things we had to find was information about the Indian. We walked over to it and read the plaque.

As it turns out, the “Inlet Indian” has a story – and several cousins.

Between 1972 and 1988, Hungarian-born artist Peter Toth carved a number of Native Americans from large wood logs, at least one for each state in the US.  He called his art project the Trail of the Whispering Giants. All told, there are 74 Whispering Giants ranging from 15 to 40 feet in height, and all resemble natives of the region in which they are located.  The Maryland Whispering Giant is an Assateague Indian, and it is carved from a 100-year-old oak log.

Learning that, coupled with my intense love of list-keeping, sparked a desire in me to see all of the Whispering Giants. So far, in addition to Maryland, I have also seen the Vermont Whispering Giant, Chief Grey Lock in Battery Park, Burlington:

vermont toth indian

and the Delaware Whispering Giant, Chief Little Owl, in Bethany Beach:

delaware toth indian

Many of the sculptures have suffered damage from over three decades of being exposed to the elements. Some, such as the Delaware Giant, have been replaced. Others, like those in Maryland and Vermont, are in desperate need of restoration and repair or they will disappear as well.

Do you know where your state’s Whispering Giant is? You can find a complete list here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *