Fremont has always been a vague and mysterious place. Some of the old timers here will tell you there were troll sightings ever since the Aurora Bridge went up in ’32. Of course, now there’s plenty of sightings. It seems the Troll sculpture has made Fremont into a regular magnet for Trolls, especially at the summer solstice and Halloween. Thanks to Isaac Price, the photographer who took this picture of the Fremont Troll on March 25, 2011.
Historically, trolls are part of Scandinavian folklore. They were found either as dwarfs or giants (yes, as big as this one) living in caves, by the sea, in the forest or under bridges. They lived in clans or families and were characterized as being ferocious, ugly creatures fond of eating human flesh (and even the occasional Volkswagen). Most trolls used to dwell in dark places because they cannot tolerate sunlight.(Sunscreen has now changed all this.) They are usually grey or green in color, and sometimes scaly. Trolls are described as having monstrously ugly faces, enormous noses, arms that hang below their knees. They are known to be very strong and powerful. Trolls are fascinated by jewelry in general, gold, silver and shiny things on cars in particular. They are also attracted to small children and luminous women. Trolls often live to be very old. They are known to be incorrigibly mischievous pranksters by nature. The Fremont Troll was inspired by the folk tale Billy Goat’s Gruff.
The Troll Monument
It all started in 1989 when our local Fremont Arts Council was approached about doing something more imaginative with the space under the Aurora bridge. Encouraged by the prospect of support and funding, a national competition was organized to select the best ideas. Arts Council activists Barbara Luecke, Roger Wheeler, Peter Beavis, Peter Toms and Denise Fogelman juried the field down to five finalists who were then commissioned to create models that would be voted on by the community at the Fremont Fair.
The Troll created by a team, calling themselves the Jersey Devils and led by sculptor Steve Badanes, was voted the overwhelming favorite. A city-matching grant was successful in funding the project. Thus, the Fremont Troll came to be. Made from rebar steel, wire and 2 tons of messy ferroconcrete, the Troll monument took about 7 weeks to complete.
Watch Your Car Parts
Fremont’s neighborhood trolls have come a long way from the terrifying Trolls of legend. They have, in fact, become quite civilized, fun loving local celebrities. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see one (or you might see a picture of one, like this painting in the local sandwich shop, Homegrown. Find more eats here…) Trolls love to cavort in parades and share an endless passion for dance and any kind of festivities. They aren’t interested in eating people anymore, but have been known to take entire cars apart looking for shiny bits inside. So, a word of caution; it’s best to hide any car parts you might have about your person and be sure to park your vehicles as far away from the Troll as you can.
Events at the Troll
The Fremont Arts Council plays host to Troll-a-ween each year. This mysterious event is always elusive.
Even more elusive is the Shakespeare at the Troll performed through the summer these fun and quirky theatrical experiences are not to be missed. When we hear the dates we always add them to the Events Calendar.
Although not an event at the Troll, the 2007 Fremont, Red Bull, Soap Box Derby featured the Rolling Troll, a bicycle chassis turned racer, which is now on display at History House.
And although the Fremont Troll is not dressed up as much as the Waiting for the Interurban statue, he still gets an occasional chalk face lift such as a Santa hat.
Need more Troll?
- If you can’t come to Fremont to see the troll, Carel Struycken has made a 360° view of the Fremont Troll (January 9, 2009).
- Join the Troll on Facebook
- Read about the Troll on Wikipedia
- Read about the effort to clean up the area around the Troll and turn it into Troll’s Knoll Park on Fremocentrist.com
- Roadside America’s 2010 article will tell you more about the Elvis time capsule, which was briefly contained inside the Troll.