The treasure of Vining, Minn.

There’s nothing quite so enjoyable as wandering the scenic route in Minnesota and stumbling on treasure.

On the way back from Battle Lake on Friday, I took the road to Henning because I heard Cathy Wurzer’s interview about the pep squad and basketball team that’s in the state tournament, and I wanted to see what Henning looked like. There’s not much to see in Henning.

But if I hadn’t looked, I would’ve missed Vining, Minn. (pop. 78).

You would think the most famous person in the Otter Tail County town would be Karen Nyberg, who had two missions aboard the International Space Station.


It’s Ken Nyberg, her father, who built an 11-foot human foot over two years. His wife didn’t even know, according to Roadside America.

He didn’t stop there, which is why people don’t just drive past the convenience store in Vining, which hosts Vining Park and its treasures.

You don’t drive past stuff like this.

The elephant is made out of old lawnmower blades.

A dancing knife and spoon? Why not?

A cockroach in a pair of pliers? They don’t have that in Henning

There’s a bit of a mystery here because there’s supposed to be a sculpture of an astronaut.  It’s missing.

Says Roadside America:

We suspect that Ken really is proud of his work, but the Scandinavian in him keeps him from admitting it. Some of his sculptures, such as a life-size elephant made of lawn mower blades, took Ken hundreds of hours to hammer and weld.

Ken said that once he’s completed an artwork he moves on to his next without giving it much thought. “It’s whatever hits me that day,” he said. “I just do it.” He insists that there’s no deep or hidden meaning in any of his sculptures, other than his desire to never to do the same thing twice. “I wouldn’t be very good on an assembly line.”

Inside Big Foot Gas and Grocery is a guest book filled with the signatures of thousands of people who’ve stopped to visit Nyberg Park. Store manager Glen McDowell told us that Ken likes to look at the book when he comes in for coffee, which he does at least once a day. Ken told us that one of the good things about being retired (he was born in 1938) is that he can stop sculpting and get coffee whenever he wants.

“I’m not really meant to be stuck out in public,” he said.