Pierre the Pantsless Voyageur
Standing 20 feet tall and made out of fiberglass and mesh, Pierre the Pantsless Voyageur is an iconic piece of Two Harbors history. In his heyday, which was in the 60s and 70s, Pierre had eyes that can move and glowed red. Also, his head could move from side to side and he even had a speaker so he could talk. He was controlled by a motel employee and delighted pre-video game era children from all over with tales of voyageur history. When he was first built, there was a birch bark canoe and information sign next to him. He held a red canoe paddle, had a full black beard, and wore a hat, a tunic-style coat, calf-high leather boots, and no pants.
Pierre the Pantsless Voyageur of Two Harbors (not his official name) was placed in front of the Voyageur Motel in 1960. He was designed to be a roadside attraction meant to bring in visitors. This reflects the campy, idealistic advertising methods used in the 50s and 60s to get people into otherwise basic motels. Pierre was brought to Two Harbors by the owner of the Voyageur Motel, Stanley Nelson. He was actually the centerpiece of Nelson’s Voyageur Museum which was located next door to the motel.
But, Why No Pants, Pierre?
Supposedly, the no-pants part represents what voyageurs wore. However, no historic images show voyageurs not wearing pants. Minneota is a cold state, even back in Voyageur days!
Minnesota is also no stranger to voyageur statues. There’s one in Ranier, Barnum, Cloquet, Pine City, and Crane Lake. They are all wearing pants. The Crane Lake statue shares Pierre’s love of calf-high boots, but he seems to be wearing some pants, albeit, tight pants, under his boots.
On could argue that Pierre’s flesh-toned legs were meant to be flesh-toned pants. But, to most, he clearly appears to be pantless. He has been lovingly given the name Pierre the Pantsless Voyageur of Two Harbors as a result.
Hard Time For Pierre
After the 1970s, the museum closed and Pierre became neglected. His head no longer rotated to greet guests. His eyes became dark slits that no longer looked side to side. His voice was silenced. The canoe and information sign disappeared and Pierre’s beard grayed over time. At some point, he lost his paddle and it was never replaced. Pierre became a sad representation of an iron ore shipping town that had seen better days.
In 2008, the back half of the Voyeur Motel was destroyed and Pierre the Pantsless Voyageur was almost destroyed with it.
Pierre Is Saved By a Facebook Page
Luckily, someone had the mindset to create a Pierre the Pantsless Voyageur of Two Harbors Facebook page. That page gave Pierre his voice back. This seemingly overlooked and forgotten statue suddenly had a new life. And, thousands of Facebook fans.
On Facebook, Pierre was witty and clever. He would comment on the things happening around him like the weather and local elections. Thanks in part to the Facebook page, and some persistent fans who refused to let this iconic statue be destroyed before an O’Reilly Auto Parts store was built where he stood, Pierre found himself moving to a new home.
Pierre Moves to the Earthwood Inn
In 2011 Pierre the Pantsless Voyageur of Two Harbors made one last voyage to the Earthwood Inn located near the intersections of the Scenic Drive and Highway 61 just outside of Two Harbors. Here, he stands proudly facing Highway 61, greeting visitors as they arrive. He received a fresh paint job and a new paddle. The owners of the Earthwood Inn even put a birch bark canoe at his feet so visitors can once again enjoy photo ops like they did in the 60s and 70s.
However, he hasn’t been without incident since moving to his new home. In March of 2017, Pierre’s arm, the one that holds the paddle, was injured and broke off in a windstorm. For some time, his arm was in a sling and his paddle sat on the ground by his feet. Luckily, the folks at the Earthwood Inn were able to find a statue doctor to repair him. In June of 2017 Electroforge Custom Welding and Marine Fabrication came through with a new arm for Pierre. Once again, he stood tall and proud with a paddle in his repaired arm.
All in all, Pierre is doing quite well now. His eyes can glow red again, his head can (sort of) move again, and he can talk again, although he doesn’t very often. Even his Facebook page has been relatively quiet since he found his new home. We like to think he’s happy with where he is an how he’s being treated these days. He’s just too busy greeting visitors to update his Facebook.
Pierre sits near the intersection of Highway 61 and the North Shore Scenic Drive just outside of Two Harbors, Minnesota. If you are coming into Two Harbors on Highway 61, you can’t miss him! Look to the right just past the car dealership. If you want to get up close and take photos with Pierre, just go into the Earthwood Inn parking lot.
Listen to the Statues of the North Shore podcast episode featuring Pierre the Pantsless Voyageur of Two Harbors: