Elmer Petersen

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This article is about the sculptor from Wisconsin. For the politician from Wisconsin, see Elmer Peterson.
Elmer Petersen
Born (1928-09-06) September 6, 1928 (age 86)
Racine, Wisconsin
Nationality American
Education Leo Steppat, Prof. of Sculpture, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Alma mater Dana College; Blair, Nebraska, B.A., University of Wisconsin–Madison, M.S., M.F.A
Known for sculpture
Notable work World's Largest Buffalo, La Crosse Players, Eagle in La Crosse's Riverside Park
Spouse(s) Carole Mortvedt (m. 1968)
Elected chairman of the Downtown La Crosse Sculpture Project Committee
Petersen's 1959 sculpture of a buffalo, a tourist attraction in Jamestown, North Dakota

Elmer Paul 'Pete' Petersen is an American sculptor who works in metal. His most prominent artwork is the World's Largest Buffalo in Jamestown, North Dakota. Petersen lives and works in Galesville, Wisconsin. Much of his art is publicly displayed around La Crosse, Wisconsin, where he led the Downtown La Crosse Sculpture Project Committee.[1] The La Crosse Tribune called Petersen "one of the premiere sculptors in the Coulee Region" and "instrumental in getting public sculpture scattered throughout downtown" La Crosse. He has worked significantly with welding, including that of found metal objects, and often sculpts in cast bronze.

At Dana College, Petersen was drafted in the middle of his education, then returned on the GI Bill for graduate work in art at the University of Wisconsin. Early in his career, Petersen worked in Texas[2] before returning to Wisconsin in 1978[3] and opening a studio.

From January to July 2007, Petersen displayed a collection at The Danish Immigrant Museum in Elk Horn, Iowa.[4]


  • World's Largest Buffalo, Jamestown, North Dakota[5]
  • La Crosse Players, La Crosse, Wisconsin;[6][7] a replica is at the Rose Street city entrance
  • Eagle in Riverside Park, La Crosse, Wisconsin,[8] a large statue of 14-gauge weathering steel depicting a tree trunk with bald eagle atop it, clutching fish in its talons[9]
  • Head of Sculptor
  • Boy with Butterfly, Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center lobby, La Crosse, Wisconsin[10]
  • Gideon Hixon statue[11]
  • King Gambrinus statue, at the Heileman brewery
  • Rev. David O. Van Slyke, Galesville Methodist pastor and farmer, depicted in a statue on the edge of downtown Galesville with apple and Bible[12]



  1. ^ Kent, Joan (2006). "Statue Boy Will Keep Wearing Birthday Suit; The Gift Stirred Discussion Because Of Its Nudity". La Crosse Tribune (La Crosse, Wisconsin). Retrieved 2014. 
  2. ^ "Hemisfair Sculpture Show: 'Best Ever This Side of Ocean'". San Antonio Light. April 21, 1968. Retrieved June 2, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Elmer Petersen, Sculptor of La Crosse". WKBT-DT. April 27, 2015. Retrieved 2015-04-28. 
  4. ^ "Past Exhibitions". Danish American Museum. Retrieved June 21, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Jamestown's big buffalo sculpture gets a paint job". Bismarck Tribune (Bismarck, North Dakota). 2007. Retrieved 2014. 
  6. ^ Stephannie Hammes; Leslie F. Crocker (1992). Forms and Spaces: Sculpture in La Crosse, Wisconsin. 
  7. ^ "Forms and Spaces: Sculpture in La Crosse, Wisconsin". murphylibrary.uwlax.edu. Retrieved 2014-06-21. 
  8. ^ "Riverside Park History". City of La Crosse. Retrieved 2014-06-21. 
  9. ^ Magney, Reid (April 18, 2003). "Rusty eagle needs patchwork". La Crosse Tribune. Retrieved July 26, 2014. 
  10. ^ Explore La Crosse: La Crosse Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Boy with Butterfly – Sculpture". explorelacrosse.com. Retrieved 2014-06-21. 
  11. ^ Hyra, Jackie (July 19, 2007). "Local man supervises renovations to landmark: the "World’s Largest Buffalo"". La Crosse Tribune. Retrieved July 26, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Hometown Icon: Galesville Square". La Crosse Tribune. September 18, 2014. Retrieved September 20, 2014.