Symbolic ‘Keys to the City’ are usually not carved from wood, nor are they held by a four-fingered wooden troll wearing a top hat, but folks who visit “The Troll Capitol of the World” are welcomed to Mount Horeb by just such a Mayoral Representative.
Four Anderson Lock ladies recently took the tollway to “The Trollway” which is in a small Wisconsin city originally settled by Scandinavian immigrants. The quaint Main Street is lined with carved wooden trolls, giving it a nickname known throughout the region.
Laura Miller and Brenda Asta, who have worked together at Anderson Lock for 40-plus years; Lauren Zannini and Luisa Casale, colleagues at our Door Division; and three of their friends; spent a recent weekend embracing Norwegian heritage in troll-themed shops and restaurants. An apple orchard and pumpkin farm added autumnal charm to their agenda.
Laura and Brenda posed with the mayor troll, who holds the “Key to the City” and who stands outside the Chamber of Commerce, because the big wooden key reminded them of the wooden keys Andy Anderson carved for his son Gene, the founder of Anderson Lock.
Andy was a highly skilled Swedish-American wood carver. He didn’t carve any trolls that I know of, but he did carve the wooden keys, pictured here, from a single piece of wood. The keys, with an “E” for Eugene and an “A” for Anderson, are about ten inches long, and are connected with a keyring that measures three and a half inches in diameter. The keys hung in Gene Anderson’s office for years.
Unlike Andy, who used knives and hand-held wood carving tools, many of today’s troll carvers use chainsaws on tree trunks.The first trolls arrived in Mount Horeb in 1976 when the owners of a local Scandinavian gift shop imported them from Norway, and placed them on the store’s lawn. Since then, local artists have sculpted several additional, whimsical, life-size trolls to enchant tourists. Michael Feeney, a resident woodcarver, created many of the trolls, which are usually painted, and which depict a variety of themes.
Troll legends originate from early Scandinavian folklore. They may appear a little frightening at first, but they are considered to be good-natured and to have semi-magical powers. Trolls have enormous noses; only four fingers on each hand and four toes on each foot; and live to be hundreds of years old. Mount Horeb’s trolls never tire of taking photos with tourists.
Judging from the trolls’ toes poking out from under their baggy pants, trolls don’t wear shoes. If they did, I believe they would choose ones that look like the wooden boots Andy carved, pictured here.
Andy and Ella, Gene’s parents, worked for him in the early days of Anderson Lock. Laura and Brenda were also listed among the company’s initial employees. When their first babies were born, Andy gifted each of them a wooden boot like the ones that now decorate a shelf in Cortney’s office.
Whimsical baby booties, to be sure, but cherished hand-carved keepsakes from Andy Anderson!