If you have followed Iowa Road Trip for any amount of time, you’re aware that we are big fans of Denny Allen sculptures.
Back in the mid-1980s Denny used his welding skills to use spare metal parts to start building things, such as a model of a bug. Wasn’t long before the creations got larger and eventually life-size. Around 1987, one of the first large-size sculptures was a dinosaur, specifically a stegosaur, which you can still see today in rural Cherokee County. Over the years, he’s been asked to create sculptures for schools, hospitals, and churches.
Most of his creations are made of the same small metal pieces, which are spare metal pieces from RJ Thomas Manufacturing in Cherokee, Iowa. My understanding is that the owners are relatives and he’s able to utilize their spare leftovers. In fact, when I stopped by RJ Thomas for a quick conversation, they seemed more than thrilled to supply him with their extras – as they are always anxious to see what he creates next.
Velociraptor at Ridge View High School in Holstein, Iowa
Map Location: Ridge View High School in Holstein, Iowa
Ridge View’s mascot is the raptor, so they asked Denny to create a velociraptor that stands just outside the entrance of the school. There is plenty of parking on site (assuming it’s not a school day) and is pretty easy to find, it’s on your left as you face the front door.
Stegosaurus south of Cherokee, Iowa
The stegosaurus was Denny’s first large-scale metal sculpture built around 1987. After it was created came the question of, “now what do I do with it?”. Turns out that Denny owned this land at the time, so he moved the stegosaurus to this location, where it has resided for the last 30+ years.
Of all the sculptures on this tour, this is the hardest one to spot. The stegosaurus is located on private property inside the fence line. If you want a closer look, I would encourage you to park on the side of the road on Highway 31, as there’s a wider shoulder on Highway 31.
The sculpture is 11 feet tall and around 25 feet long. Allen built it from the top down and used disk blades, ploweshares, and other odd scraps.
Bike sculptures on C63
Map Location: C63 south of Aurelia
Several years ago, when RAGBRAI (annual bike ride across Iowa) went on this exact route, Denny created some metal bike sculptures, which are still on site today. They are on the north side of Highway C63, just a few miles east of where the stegosaurus is located.
Giraffe and Bison at RJ Thomas Manufacturing in Cherokee, Iowa
Map Location: 5648 US-59, Cherokee, IA 51012
This is private property, however, two sculptures can be easily spotted from the highway. Also, this is home to where the spare metal pieces originate. RJ Thomas Manufacturing is also as Pilot Rock, where they produce metal products such as charcoal grills, bicycle racks, park benches, and campfire rings. On the south end of the property, there’s a metal bison. On the north end of the site is a life-size metal giraffe, who is being guided by a welder.
Moose on Highway 3 bypass in Cherokee, Iowa
Map Location: 530th Street on east side of town, almost to the intersection of Hwy 3 bypass, Cherokee, Iowa
This 600-pound moose caused quite a stir when he was released into the wild, as a person driving by called into the city claiming that a real moose was seen east of Cherokee. The moose is located on private property, but can easily be spotted from the side of the road.
Bulldog at Aurelia Public Library
Map location: 232 Main St, Aurelia, IA 51005
Near the front door of the Aurelia Public Library is perhaps one of Denny’s smallest public creations – a life-size bulldog who guards the entrance.
Sculptures at Kiwanis Park in Aurelia, Iowa
Map location; 304 W 4th St, Aurelia, IA 51005
On the east side of Aurelia, Iowa is Kiwanis Park with a walking path that includes the largest collection of Denny Allen sculptures. All of the sculptures are on public property, so you’ll want to park and walk around to everything in. Plan on 30 to 60 minutes.
What’s also incredible is that Denny’s work shows through in the park, not just the sculptures. Several years ago, the town was seeking ideas for what to do with the wetlands area that is within the park. With the help of the Kiwanis Club, the idea was to turn the area into a park and a walking path.
The work included:
- Two steel arched bridges (also built by Denny Allen)
- Walking path (originally laid out by Denny Allen)
- Gazebo with picnic benches (also built by Denny Allen)
Here’s a checklist of Denny Allen creations that you should look for at Kiwanis Park in Aurelia, Iowa.
Sailboat at Hospital in Storm Lake, Iowa
Map location: 1525 W 5th St, Storm Lake, IA 50588
Our last stop on the trip is the Hospital in Storm Lake, Iowa. Near the front entrance is a sailboat sculpture, which was a commissioned piece created by Denny Allen.
Lunch suggestions in Storm Lake:
Here’s our list of places to eat in Storm Lake. My first pick would be Taqueria La Juanita, and order the Carne Asada. Or try out the award-winning burger at Smokin’ Hereford BBQ. If you’re just in the mood for a treat, then check out our list of treats in Storm Lake.
Next adventures in Storm Lake:
For your next adventure, try out:
Climb to the top of the lighthouse at Awaysis Park for a view of Storm Lake
Check out the chainsaw sculptures in Chautauqua Park.
Denny Allen Sculpture Road Trip Google Map
Here’s a dedicated map outlining the exact locations for each sculpture: