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art for trails and greenways
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The Harmony-Preston Valley Trail, Minnesota

Art along trails and greenways: projects from the Artful Ways Survey

image: Hobo markings were a way of communicating among these wanderers
Hobo markings were a way of communicating among these wanderers

Harmony-Preston Valley Trail, Minnesota

Map of Minnesota

A recent project on the Harmony-Preston Valley Trail is the new permanent interpretive signage for Harmony's Hobo Camp. The Hobo sign is titled "Life Along the Rails." A sculptural project is a series of hobo figures. The artist is Woodcarver Stanley J. (Slim) Maroushek received training in his craft from the Bily Brothers of Spillville, Iowa, and now teaches others. Carefully designed, the figures of the Hobo Camp create a life-like grouping.

photo: Wood carvings by artist Stanley J. (Slim) Maroushek in Harmony, MN's Hobo Camp
Wood carvings by artist Stanley J. (Slim) Maroushek in Harmony, MN's Hobo Camp

The interpretive sign on the trail can be viewed as a PDF document (1.3 mb). The text describes hobo life:

"The keyword in describing a hobo was independence. Unlike tramps or bums, hobos were usually very resourceful, self reliant and appreciative people. They displayed a quiet pride arising from selfconfidence and the secure knowledge that they controlled their own destiny. They avoided long-term work commitments, preferring to be free to follow the call of the open road when it came.

"In their leisure time many hobos used their knives to create things of beauty to barter for food or exchange for money. The items they carved or whittled became one of the original forms of American folk art, known as hobo or tramp art. After World War II their numbers declined rapidly, and these independent travelers disappeared entirely with the demise of local train service. But some of our older citizens remember the "Hobo Camp" which was located not far from the train depot."

Contributors to the Hobo Camp project include:

  • Stanley J. (Slim) Maroushek
  • City of Harmony and its employees
  • Harmony Tourism Committee and Marilyn Trouten, TIC Director
  • SE Minnesota Arts Council
  • Harmony Firemen's Relief Assn. Fund
  • Minn. Department of Natural Resources
  • Harmony Area Historical Society
  • Slim's Woodshed and Carving Museum
  • Harmony Cable TV
  • Harmony News-Mabel Record & Fillmore County Journal Newpapers
  • Harmony Lions Club

October 11, 2004

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