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Second time around search for the World’s Largest Otter – the first time nearly ended in divorce!

 

Some years back we were on a year-long family road trip across the United States when I discovered that I had an unhealthy interest in roadside attractions. These are novelties as opposed to cultural icons – National Parks, museums. I would keep our detours to see these attractions as a surprise, so my family would have no idea what we were about to see!

Anyway, about 2 months into our road trip I decided to head off of I-94 in Minnesota into the small community in search of the World’s largest otter. Of course, my family had no idea what we were looking for and I wouldn’t tell them. About an hour later I had not found said otter and the frustration set in with me and my family (I still had not said we were looking for). Bear in mind in those days we did not have smartphones to guide us as we do today. Eventually, I called off my search by which time we were all not in the best of moods. It was one of those marriage ending experiences – luckily we all survived to tell the story.

So, fast-forward 12 years and we were travelling north on I-94 and decided to go in search of the aforementioned otter. This time, armed with cell phones and Google we found it few problems (it still was not that simple!)

Otto the World’s largest Otter lives in the picturesque setting of Grotto Park, right next to Grotto Lake. Fergus Falls is located appropriately enough in Otter Tail County … which seems an odd name for a county … but it could have been worst if named after other parts of an otter’s anatomy!

Standing at 15 feet tall and roughly 40 feet long, Otto is a beloved mascot for the city.  Otto was constructed in 1972 by a group of high school students aided by their teacher and local artist Steve Jaenisch to celebrate the City’s centennial. Otto is made from metal rods and concrete.

 

 

After snapping a few photos of Otto we noticed a small island on Grotto Lake just a few feet from the shore. On this island was a rather dead-looking tree that a large number of heron and cormorants had decided to use for nests and roosting. It was rather amazing to get close to such a collection of spectacular birds.

Address: Grotto Park, S. Burlington Ave., Fergus Falls, MN

Directions: Southeast side of town. On the south side of E. Vernon Ave./Pebble Lake Rd, on the north side of the lake in Grotto Park.

For more information see Roadside America site.

 

 

Talking of birds, Fergus Falls had yet another surprise for us. On the way back out the City close to the junction with I-94 is the Otter Tail County Historical Museum. The museum itself was closed but we had not come here to visit the museum – our destination was the large metal sculpture of a Canadian goose that lives in its grounds! Being summer there was an explosion of colour happening in the flower beds which added a dramatic foreground to the photos.

 

 

Address: Otter Tail County Historical Museum, 1110 W. Lincoln Ave., Fergus Falls, MN

Directions: On the west edge of town. I-94 exit 54, then a mile east on Hwy 210/Lincoln Ave. In Van Dyk Park.

For more information see Roadside America site.

 

Mark & Karen Hobbs

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