Ever since a century-old spruce tree died in Frank Riha’s yard two years ago, Riha has been pondering how he should repurpose the stump.
Almost 20 years ago, Frank and wife, Jo, who live at 704 Water St. (on the bend in the road at the west end of the street) had a tree die and memorialized it by having a carving done out of the stump.
“I love carvings. So when that first tree passed away, I had a carving done of a little gnome throwing a child up in the air,” said Frank.
At the time, the Rihas held a naming contest for the new creation. The winning entry, submitted by Norma Mestad, was “Opp og ned,” which means “Up and Down” in Norwegian. She received a cash prize.
And although the statue has elicited loads of attention over the years, Frank said Jo has not always been a fan.
“She has learned to love him, but when I said, ‘Let’s do another carving,’ she said she’s not having another gnome in the yard,” he said.

A great idea
As Riha was pondering the perfect use for his deceased spruce, Pastor Bryan Robertson happened by the Rihas’ while out for a walk.
“We were standing out in the yard talking about it and he gave us the idea to do an eagle,” he said.
Frank said it didn’t take long for him to land on an artist for the piece, as he had seen the chainsaw carvings of Pat Doyle of Floyd on many occasions. Doyle appeared at the Winneshiek County Fair a number of years ago and is scheduled to be at the Howard County Fair at the end of this month.
“I have followed his work for several years. I’ve seen some of his other artistry, but I love his detail and his eagles. The guy is absolutely amazing,” said Riha .
It took Doyle around 12 hours over two days to carve the eagle, which Riha said is loosely modeled after the emblem on a CASE tractor.
“I always liked that image of an eagle with its head sideways, standing on a globe,” said Riha.

A new eagle
Riha said he recently got a chuckle when Bob Anderson of the Raptor Resource Project showed up and received a huge surprise.
“Apparently someone had emailed him and said he had to go see the new eagle in town. He thought he was going to see a real eagle,” said Riha.
When Anderson saw the creation, he told Riha he thought it was a great idea.
“I told him I wasn’t sure what to name him, so Anderson suggested I hold a contest and said he would put the contest on his eagle cam,” said Riha.

How to enter
Contest entries can be submitted to Decorah Newspapers, by calling Lissa Blake at 563-382-4221 or emailing news@decorahnewspapers.com.
Deadline is Friday, July 18.
The winner will receive $50 in Chamber Dollars to be spent at any Chamber member business in Decorah.