James J. Hill Statue dedication in 1939 (Stearns History Museum)

June 17th, 1939 – James J. Hill Monument at Lake George dedicated

Have you ever wondered about the big granite statue in Eastman Park by Lake George? It is a 16-foot-tall sculpture depicting the top half of a man in a suit. If you’ve been curious enough to take a closer look, you notice the inscription below:

James Jerome Hill
Empire Builder

Fields, industries and homes on plains and mountainland forever will memorialize the genius of James Jerome Hill. He applied that genius to colonization of new country, and to advancing the welfare of the thousands of families who participated with him in building the great northwest empire.

This sculpture was erected on June 17th, 1939 as a monument to Hill in recognition of the significant contributions made by Mr. Hill and the Great Northern Railway to the St. Cloud area. Hill located the Great Northern Car Shops in Waite Park, not just because it was an ideal location, but because of the personal relationships he had with area businessmen and pioneers. Also, when Andrew Carnegie graciously agreed to pay for the public library building here, one of the conditions was that the site for the library had to be provided. James J. Hill made a sizable donation to the Reading Room Society to pay for this site.

An article from the St. Cloud Daily Times on the date of this monument’s dedication had strong hopes for its future:

“For the unnumbered years it will stand as an inspiration to you of the possibilities of those who work and make their dreams realities.”

Does it inspire you?

Thanks to the Stearns History Museum and Sarah Warmka for their help with our series, "This Date In Central Minnesota History".