Travel Theme: Statues – Where I Come From

I always loved this statue of Joe Rolette (sometimes spelled Roulette). As an employee of the American Fur Company in the 1840s, he helped mark out the Pembina Trail, on which ox carts transported furs and other goods between Canada and St. Paul, MN. From 1853-1857, while the Pembina area was part of the Minnesota Territory (it later became part of North Dakota), Rolette represented the district in the territorial legislature. Apparently he was a happy man; his nickname was Jolly Joe. He died in 1871.


Pembina Trail Memorial, Crookston, Polk County, Minnesota

Joseph Roulette, explorer, adventurer, pioneer, American Fur Company,

Joseph Roulette, fur trader, pioneer, legislator

The Hawken Type Plains Rifle Roulette carries is being restored.

From the Crookston Daily Times:

For nearly 50 years, the lofty Pembina Trail Memorial gracing the lawn of the Red River Valley Shows has caught the eye passers-through and local residents traveling along U.S. Highway 2 West/Highway 75 North in Crookston. The three-piece monument made of fiberglass, concrete and steel pays homage to pioneer Joe Roulette, along the Red River ox cart and Pembina Trail, which he was credited with originating in 1843. The trail, running from Pembina at the Canadian border to St. Paul, unified the valley and opened it up to commercial use prior to construction of the Great Northern Railway. The monument stands a few miles east of the trail, remnants of which remain today.

The monument has fallen into disrepair and a group called Save the Pembina Trail Memorial Association was formed to get the wheels moving on refurbishing it. While the statue of Rolette, the ox and the base can be rejuvenated with a few touch-ups, the ox cart replica, which is larger than an authentic ox cart, needs to be replaced, said committee member Bonnie Christians. A descendant of Roulette (on his wife’s side), Ed Jerome, constructs ox carts.

The Ox Cart move goods up and down the Pemina Trail

The ox cart move goods up and down the Pemina Trail. The carts were smaller than the statue.

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Family, Minnesota, Roots

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