Highway 22 Commemorative Wooden Bowls

    June 30th, 2022

    Mankato, MN – Wooden bowls handcrafted from Victory Memorial Highway trees now available at the Blue Earth County History Center.

    In 2016, MnDOT announced reconstruction of the 15-mile MN Highway 22 between Mankato and Mapleton aka Victory Memorial Highway. The road work was aimed at improving safety and traffic flow, but also meant 600 trees would need to be removed due to their proximity to the highway and poor health. Road construction spanned 2017-2018; wrapping up in 2019 with new plantings of over 600 trees, 100 evergreens, 150 shrubs and 3,000 tall grasses and wildflowers.

    A few of those removed trees were salvaged by local artist Randy Dinsmore. The wood was dried and cured for five years before it was turned into unique, artisan and functional wood bowls. Each bowl is unique and for sale at the Blue Earth County History Center. Limited quantities are available.

    More About Victory Drive Highway

    In 1944, even before World War II had ended, Blue Earth County citizens were looking to honor the war’s servicemen and women. One particularity driven individual was Harriet Barney. Born in Mapleton and living in Mankato, Mrs. Barney was the founder and president of the Mankato Garden Club. When a new highway between Mankato and Mapleton was announced, the idea of creating a living memorial to Blue Earth County’s World War I and II veterans began to take shape.

    Soon, Mrs. Barney’s plan in partnership with the Mapleton American Legion and Minnesota Department of Highways was set into action. Trees, as living memorials, would be planted along the new “Victory Highway” between Mankato and Mapleton. Those who wished to contribute could pay $2.50 for the purchase of one tree in honor of a serviceman or woman. In exchange, the veteran’s name would be included on a plaque that at one time hung at the Blue Earth County Courthouse.

    The Minnesota Highway Department agreed to take care of planting and tending to the trees. Between 1948-1952 1,170 trees were planted along both sides of “Victory Highway” from Mankato to about 9 miles south. The trees included American Elms, Black Hills Spruce, Green Ash, Poplars and Conifers. In 1955, the living memorial was extended south of nine-mile corner to Mapleton with the planting of additional trees.

    More about the Artist

    Handcrafted by RDinsmWoodArt

    My art is heavily influenced by my 30+ years experience in historic restoration. The materials I work with are almost exclusively from trees on my own or neighbor’s properties, brought down by storms for other reasons, or lumber salvaged and repurposed from construction projects. One of my favorite pieces spent 130 years as a hip rafter on a historic home in Minneapolis, MN. The knots, cracks, bark inclusions, twisted grain patterns, stains, spalt, etc. are features, not flaws.

    Interested in more handcrafted pieces, visit RDinsmWoodArt on Amazon.

    Bowls can be purchased at the Blue Earth County History Center for $150 each. Limited quantity available.

    For more information, please contact BECHS at 507-345-5566 or visit our website at www.BlueEarthCountyHistory.com.