Artist’s longest troll yet unveiled in Detroit Lakes – InForum

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. – Just off the beach in the heart of Detroit Lakes, volunteers Thursday put the finishing touches on one of the trolls that have been very much in public in recent days.

World-famous artist Thomas Dambo is the heart and soul behind this recycling art.

“Over the past ten years, I’ve built 138 giant recycled sculptures in 17 countries and 19 US states around the world. And I make them on a treasure hunt, so I hide them,” Dambo said.

Just outside Detroit Lakes, deep in the forest, a scavenger hunt will start next week, where residents can look for Dambo’s trolls. The trolls are made from recycled wood and other materials from all over the world. They’re in Detroit Lakes now, so we went hunting.

Starting Monday, June 10, people can look for the trolls in Detroit Lakes. Until then, their locations are top secret. We even had to sign non-disclosure agreements, we were blindfolded and our phones were confiscated so that no GPS information could be stored.

After we were blindfolded, we set off. Famed action sports YouTubers Cboys took us through small roads and woods near the city until we reached it: Dambo’s largest work yet, right in the backyard of Detroit Lakes.

“He’s the longest troll I’ve built in the world. He’s 37 feet long,” Dambo said.


Danish artist Thomas Dambo stands next to his tallest troll ever built on Thursday, June 6, 2024, in the forest near Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. At 37 feet long, the troll is one of five scattered in and around Detroit Lakes as part of a scavenger hunt that begins next week.

Kevin Wallevand / WDAY News

Starting next week, people can start collecting clues, which will eventually lead them to trolls and other creations, such as a rabbit made from plastic collected from a company in western North Dakota.

“The eyes are made from a motorcycle helmet that we got from, I think, the Boys and Girls Club Store. And then the teeth are made from fender bumpers, and the whiskers are made from windshield wipers and then the whole exterior of the sculpture is made of almost 2,000 of these worn yellow crates from Bismarck Tool and Die Company,” Dambo said.

For the more than 400 volunteers in Detroit Lakes, many hours were spent drilling and hammering nails and building bird houses for the forests near the trolls. It has transformed the city.

“Everyone’s talking about it. Everybody. Everywhere I go, in small towns, Vergas, Pelican Rapids, Detroit Lakes, people ask, ‘What’s going on with those trolls?'” said volunteer Mark Davis.

“Not only are we pulling everyone together now to build them, but I think this will continue to draw people in for years to come. It’s actually quite contagious,” says volunteer Steve Schacht.

Volunteers who secretly built the trolls have endured rain, mosquitoes and poison ivy over the past few days, all for the chance to see this part of Lakes Country transformed into a never-before-seen canvas.

The treasure hunt for all trolls starts from Monday. People can get more information at the city park in Detroit Lakes, near the public troll statue.

To learn more about Dambo’s work in Minnesota, visit Visit for a global map of his trolls and learn more about Dambo at

Kevin Wallevand

Kevin Wallevand has been a reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is originally from Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have taken him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez, Mexico and the Middle East. He is a multiple Emmy winner and winner of the national Edward R. Murrow Award.

Reach Kevin at [email protected] or 701-241-5317

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