Once upon a time, trolls lived UNDER the bridge… and up until recently, that was true in Michigan, too. In fact, “Troll” is the “endearing” term used by “Yoopers” (those who live in the Upper Peninsula) for someone who lives in the Lower Peninsula.
But now, at least one Troll has established his residency in the UP: Benny the Beard Fisher.
Related: A Michigan Vocabulary Lesson
Meet Benny the Beard Fisher
Reclining on the shores of the Manistique River in Germfask Michigan, Benny the Beard Fisher is a wooden troll, created by artist Thomas Dambo, whose stature is around 30 feet long and 14 feet tall.
The giant troll’s head, hands, and feet were manufactured in Denmark and shipped to Germfask ahead of the artist’s arrival. The remainder of his body was assembled on-site in July 2023.
The cedar planks used to create this fantasy creature were recycled from a nearby Amish lumber mill, while branches and saplings were collected from nearby the installation site. The sculpture’s creator said that he takes pleasure in seeing the opportunity in what other people discard.
“But if we understand the meaning of one man’s trash is another man’s treasure then we understand that trash is a treasure. I believe trash is wealth, trash is an opportunity the world is not drowning in the trash we just don’t have the objective set right, the world is filled with opportunity.”– Thomas Dambo
Visitors to the campground as well as those floating down the river are enthralled with the large wooden troll, sharing photos and videos to social media.
About Thomas Dambo
Over 100 wooden trolls exist around the world, thanks to Thomas Dambo. In fact, Benny the Beard Fisher was his 117th troll installation. Hailing from Copenhagen, Denmark, Dambo has created more than 10 trolls in the United States, turning childhood imaginations into life-sized statues.
Dambo is also writing a children’s book using each of the U.S. trolls he installed during 2023 as characters. His book will focus on water conservation, using the trolls to tell various parts of the story.
About Northland Outfitters
Levi and Durea Brady are the new owners of the campground and canoe/kayak livery at Northland Outfitters. Located on the Manistique River near Seney National Wildlife Refuge, they offer overnight accommodations and rentals for exploring the Umpqua National Forest area.
The Bradys have plans to create a parking lot and gift shop alongside state highway M-77, along with a wooden boardwalk leading to the troll sculpture to minimize vehicle traffic inside the existing campground and livery parking lot.
More to Explore in Germfask & Beyond
Germfask derives its name from the names of its eight founding settlers from 1881. The names of these founders are John Grant, Matthew Edge, George Robinson, Thaddeus Mead, Dr. W. W. French, Ezekiel Ackley, Pscar Shepard, and Hezekiah Knaggs.
This small Upper Peninsula town is home to fewer than 500 individuals and is known for its central location between many of the UP’s top tourist destinations.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge
The Seney National Wildlife Refuge is the ideal place to relax, watch the sunrise or sunset, and enjoy the wildlife that’s around every part of this forest and wetland area along the eastern portion of the Upper Peninsula.
Within the refuge are two areas — the Stangmoor Bog National Natural Landmark and the Seney Wilderness area, both of which are picturesque and ecoclinal diverse and have some of the most stunning protected areas in the state.
Tahquamenon Falls State Park
Nestled in the forests of the Upper Peninsula, Tahquamenon Falls State Park is a hidden gem in this northern wilderness. This Michigan state park is most famous for the cascading waterfalls that are found within its borders, but there are plenty of other things to see and do within this gorgeous landscape.
There is nothing quite like the natural beauty found in Michigan. One of the most fantastic attractions located in the Upper Peninsula is Kitch-iti-kipi. This area is often referred to as “The Big Spring” as it offers a beautiful natural water source that is 40 feet deep and 200 feet across.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Seemingly rising from the foreboding waters of Lake Superior, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is one of the most breathtaking geological wonders in the state. Now protected and preserved so that people can continue to enjoy the wonders of these layered walls for years to come, it is an iconic Upper Peninsula destination and a must-visit area for people of all ages.
Fayette Historic State Park
Michigan is a state that is rich in history and overflowing with natural resources — and when you visit Fayette Historic State Park, you get to experience both the beauty of the past and the present. This state park, which is located in the Village of Garden in Delta County, features a historic townsite as well as a campground, harbor, beach, and five miles of trails.