Trail of Whispering Giants – Peter Toth sculpture in Troy, KS

I was motoring down US 36 in Kansas and saw a sign about a sculpture in 5 miles. Now, the name sounded familiar and you don’t usually see sculpture announcements, so I had to go look. On the Doniphan County courthouse square in Troy, Kansas stands a 27 ft tall Indian, carved from a 250-year old Burr Oak.

Born in 1947, behind the Iron Curtain in Hungary, sculptor Peter Toth was one of 11 children. He was taught wood carving by his father before they fled with 200,000 other Hungarians after violent anti-communist uprising. Traveling by train and foot, they crossed the icy swamps into Yugoslavia, and stayed in refugee camps. Peter was just 11 years old. Eventually they relocated to Akron, OH.
Inspired by John F. Kennedy’s famous quote “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” in 1972 he set out to do an homage to the plight of the American Indian in every state. He began in La Jolla, CA with a 6 ft. Native American’s head carved into the sandstone cliff located between Marine and Windansea Beach. Next was a sculpture “Rotayan” in his hometown of Akron.
Never taking any money for his art, but occasionally taking assistance for living expenses, he works with cities, park departments, chambers of commerce, etc., to erect the giant sculptures.
Completed in November 1978, and dedicated a year later, this sculpture in Troy honors the local tribes of the Kickapoo, Potawatomi, Iowa, Sac and Fox Indians, who were relocated to Kansas from their ancestral homes. The sculptures feathers, neck broach, and head band are all a composite to the tribes’ characteristics. Toth said that he had always felt a kinship with the American Indian since their plight of being driven from their homeland paralleled that of those that lived in his native land of Hungary.
He completed his goal and the 50th of the state sculptures in Hawaii was completed in 1988, and has continued to carve all over the world.