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What happened to the large wooden carving of a Native American that stood at Greenfield Park in the 1970s and 80s?

Ben Steelman

In 1976, Hungarian-American sculptor Peter Toth erected a 25-foot wooden bust of an Indian warrior and donated it to the City of Wilmington.

Part of Mr. Toth’s “Trail of Whispering Giants,” series, the statue was to have been one of a series of 50, depicting native Americans in each of the states. It was carved from a single oak tree, shipped from Conway, S.C., by Army reservists.

Peter Toth's original wooden Indian, which once stood at Greenfield Lake, rotted. But he came to Columbus County and did two more, one of which stands in front of the N.C. Museum of Forestry in Whiteville. Photo by Beverly Tetterton, New Hanover County Public Library.


For a while, the Indian stood near the boathouse at Greenfield Lake, near the park’s former Third Street entrance. In 1979, however, parks officials moved it to a grove of trees off a scenic trail near Lions’ Bridge. The move drew protests from Mr. Toth, who claimed it had been hidden from view.

By 1986, the Indian was showing signs of damage by termites and other insects, as well as carved initials. In that year, Wilmington’s City Council voted to loan the statue to the Waccamaw Siouan Indians, and it was moved to tribal grounds at Buckhead in Columbus County.

According to Beverly Tetterton, history librarian with the New Hanover County Public Library, the Mr. Toth’s Indian rotted after it was sent to Buckhead. Toth came back to Columbus County while in his 60s and sculpted two new ones, one for Buckhead and one for the N.C. Museum of Forestry in Whiteville. The one at the Forestry Museum still stands in front of the museum at 415 South Madison St.


What’s the story behind the concrete dolphin statue in the river close to Cape Fear Community College?

Why do they have a Statue of Liberty on the City Hall lawn?

User-contributed question by:
Lee Morey

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3 Responses to “ What happened to the large wooden carving of a Native American that stood at Greenfield Park in the 1970s and 80s?”

  1. On April 3, 2012 at 3:24 pm David wrote:

    I’m curious to know if it still exists or has rotted away.

  2. On March 20, 2016 at 6:34 am Robert Tew wrote:

    I was living in Wilmington and observed Peter Toth on several occasions as he carved the Native American wooden sculpture at Greenfield Lake mentioned in this article. It should never have been relocated from the original location next to the concession stand, where it received a large volume of visitors daily. Mr. Toth treated the sculpture with a preservative that was used to prolong the life of the carving.

  3. On May 29, 2016 at 8:13 pm Richard Ransom wrote:

    I was 11 when he carved this Indian in Greenfield lake my cousin and I would go there and talk with him as he worked on it I knew it was the end for it when they first moved it near what locals call blindmans bridge then one day it was gone sad to know it was let rot away it meant alot to kids that seen it being carved as a child I feel it was gave to the people of Wilmington and should of stayed where it was gave life not moved to place that didn’t care about it and it shows in it rotten away witch I don’t believe

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