Big Ole LbNA # 31024
|Found By||GS349 |
|Last Update||Jun 8 2014 |
This letterbox can be found with a twenty-minute round-trip walk. The path is paved and smooth, easily accessible by strollers, bikes, and wheelchairs.
Twenty-eight feet tall and weighing four tons, Big Ole was a star at the 1965 New York World’s Fair. He arrived at his home in Alexandria at the end of that year, and has been the symbol of Alexandria ever since. With his arrival, Alexandria was christened “the birthplace of America”, in reference the story on the Kensington Runestone, which may have been created by Vikings who visited the area in the 1300’s. As Alexandria has grown, Ole has been moved from spot to spot in. He now stands at the trailhead to the Central Lakes Trail, across the street from the Runestone Museum.
From the intersection of Interstate 94 and Hwy 29, head north though Alexandria on Hwy 29. This is called Broadway as it goes through town. On the north side of Alexandria, the highway makes a right turn onto 3rd Avenue. Don't make this turn, but instead go straight through the intersection, continuing to head north. As soon as you cross the intersection of Broadway and Third, you will see the Big Ole statue ahead on the right. Park in the lot, identified by a sign saying Central Lakes Trail Parking Area. Head to the east end of the lot. A paved trail begins just on the other side of the gazebo. There are two choices. One is a very wide trail that stays up near the road. The other, smaller one, heads down closer to the lake. Take this smaller trail. You will cross a small bridge, and then come to a dead end. Turn to the left and continue on the trail. You will cross another bridge, and shortly after you will come to a wooded area. About twenty paces (forty steps) from the entrance to the grove, you will see a large tree stump on the lake side, near the path. If you have trouble finding it in the brush, go back to where the trees begin. As you walk, look for a group of three trees together on the left. Then there will one smaller tree, then another. Just past that one, look down, to find the stump. To the right of the stump as you face the lake is a willow tree which is growing at an angle out over the lake. Many small branches are growing straight upward from the main trunk. The stump has a hollow under it on the side facing the willow tree. The letterbox is in this hollow. If you come to a tree that has a board nailed to it about 12 feet off the ground, you have passed the stump. Please make sure the letterbox is tucked all the way back inside the stump, hidden from view, before you leave.
Once you find the letterbox, I suggest continuing on the walk, because you are just beginning the prettiest part of the walk. The trail ends just a short walk later, coming out at Nokomis. Once you get there, you can turn around and enjoy the walk back, or go up to the street, turn right, and find a Caribou Coffee just on the other side of the Mexican restaurant.