Cairn walk preserves Wisconsin's geology

Posted at 3:47 PM, Aug 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-18 17:47:15-04

Those who take part in the Urban Ecology Center's Hike Milwaukee on September 18th will see a series of stone sculptures that make up the Cairn Walk.

A cairn is a marker along a path, and each of the cairns along the walk has a story.

"Each of the cairns represent a geological time period in Wisconsin history," said artist Nicholas Tomkins of NS Stoneworks.

The Urban Ecology Center commissioned Tomkins to create nine sculptures. Eight are complete and in place. Tomkins is working on a mock-up of the ninth and final cairn.

"This is going to be constructed out of many pieces. And it's all going to be dry built so there's no mortar. It's all gravity," Tomkins added.

The project is sponsored by the family of Harry and Mary Franke. The couple has since passed and their two sons and daughter want to keep alive their love of nature.

"We see it as a wonderful combination of an artistic endeavor. Something that captures the geological history. Something that brings the community together," said Harry and Mary's son John Franke.

Once the final cairn is in place, the Urban Ecology Center will add educational materials to each of them. It extends the center's mission of educating about the environment.

"It's functional artwork. It's something people can come to and enjoy these beautiful sculptures while also learning something about Wisconsin geology," said Jamie Ferschinger, branch manager for the Riverside Park Urban Ecology Center.

Tomkins plans to finish the ninth cairn by Hike Milwaukee on September 18th but visitors can see the other eight now outside the Urban Ecology Center's Riverside Park location.

TODAY'S TMJ4 is a sponsor of Hike Milwaukee.