Created By: North Dakota State University
The tall statue, located in Island Park, is contributed to the life of Henrik Wergeland, Norway's national poet and a symbol of Norway's independence. He focused on political and religious reforms that changed agriculture and prisons and was coined as the “Abraham Lincoln of Norway.” He created May 17th as Norway’s Independence day from Sweden, which is still celebrated to date.
The statue was unveiled at Island Park in Fargo, North Dakota on Wednesday, June 17th, 1908 in front of a crowd of over 3,500 people. Fargo’s businesses closed early and the celebration was held on what would have been Wergeland’s 100th birthday. To commend Fargo for its celebration of a Norwegian national celebrity, an identical bronze statue was constructed in Oslo, Norway and was unveiled on the same day.
The statue was created by Gustav Vigeland, a well-known European sculptor. He is known to have started working on the project back in 1897, nine years before the start of the project. The project was commissioned in 1906 by Dr. Herman Fjelde, who was known to have strong ties with the Norweigian aristocracy. Fjelde fought for the statue to remain in Fargo, but committees from Minneapolis, St. Paul, Chicago and Grand Forks also bid but Fargo remained the statue’s resting place.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Island Park: Fargo's First Park