BECHS selling bowls made from Victory Highway trees

Wooden bowls handcrafted from Victory Highway trees are now available at the Blue Earth County History Center.
Published: Jun. 30, 2022 at 7:12 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 30, 2022 at 11:05 PM CDT
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - Sitting just 18 miles down Highway 22 lies Veterans Memorial Park in Mapleton, which honors veterans from all branches of the military from all wars.

“We commemorate veterans’ service to their country to keep our country free and healthy and democratic,” said Jim Swanson, quartermaster of VFW Post 5338.

Highway 22 connects the two cities and up until just a few years ago, also was a memorial to World War II veterans.

In 1944 a woman from Mapleton named Harriet Barney raised money alongside the Mapleton American Legion and MnDOT to plant trees as living memorials alongside the highway. Those who were interested in paying tribute could pay $2.50 to plant a tree in honor of a service member

“Along with that purchase, you will be able to add a loved one’s name to this registry to people that have served in World War I and World War II from Blue Earth County,” said Jessica Potter, executive director at the Blue Earth County Historical Society.

The living memorial lived on until 2016 when MnDOT announced reconstruction of Victory Highway between Mankato and Mapleton. The road work required the removal of 600 trees along the highway.

The construction went from 2017 through 2018 and finished in 2019 and new trees were planted.

Local artist Randy Dinsmore took some of those removed trees and turned them into art. Bowls that he donated to the Blue Earth County Historical Society, which is hosting the bowls for sale.

“I think it is just so incredible honestly I really hope that those that have had a long connection with the story of this highway will have an opportunity to get one of these bowls,” Potter said.

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