For years I have walked past a large painted sculpture of a horse in Andersonville and never had the slightest clue what it meant. But thanks to a very nice woman at the Swedish American Museum gift shop, I now know.
Throughout the shop and the museum, I had seen small, painted wooden horses. Curious, I asked her what they meant. She told me the Dalecarlian Horse (or Dalahäst in Swedish) was carved by Swedish men during the winter to pass the time. When they had finished, they would paint them bright colors and give them to the children to play with. Eventually, they become the national toy and a symbol for Sweden.
After Anna and I left the museum and started walking up the street for coffee, I saw the giant Dalecarlian Horse on the sidewalk. I was shocked! I had always known the statue was there, but like so many things I had simply forgotten about it and let my curiosity about its meaning dwindle away until it was nothing more than the occasional idle musing. Now, I finally understood what the horse on the corner meant. Like the Swedish flag on the water tower, it was a tribute to the heritage of Andersonville immigrants.
I've taken the image of the Dalecarlian Horse has a reminder not to let questions go unasked. Even if they may seem silly or inconsiquential, there may be an interesting story I would never know if I didn't bother to ask.
On a side note, I have since learned that while this is a large Dalecarlian horse it is not the largest. The world's largest Dalecarlian horse is actually made of concrete, not wood, and located in Avesta Municipality, Sweden. It is 13 meters (over 42 feet) tall and weighs 67 tons.