"Politics is not just about power and money games, politics is about the improvement of peoples lives, about lessening human suffering in our world and bringing about more peace and justice."
Near this site on October 25, 2002—twelve days before Election Day—a plane carrying United States Senator Paul Wellstone crashed en route to the Eveleth airport. In addition to Wellstone, the crash took the lives of his wife Sheila Wellstone, their daughter Marcia Wellstone Markuson, and three campaign staff members, Tom Lapic, Mary McEvoy, and Will McLaughlin. The plane's pilots, Michael Guess and Richard Conry, were also killed.
Paul Wellstone served Minnesota in the U.S. Senate for twelve years, and was a teacher and activist for more than thirty. Wellstone was a populist Democrat who balanced his forceful advocacy for social and economic justice with a sense of humor and joy for politics. A fiery orator, he enlivened crowds with his passionate speeches. As an accomplished legislator, he formed alliances across the political spectrum.
Paul Wellstone loved Minnesota, and especially the Iron Range, where he began his first Senate campaign in 1989. The Range's history of progressive politics and its working-class character fit Wellstone perfectly. He often referred to the Range as "my second home."
This six-acre site is a tribute to Senator Wellstone's life and career, and to the lives of his family and staff who died in the crash. It is divided into three parts: the Legacy Trail, the Commemorative Circle, and the Crash Site Narrative Space.
This site was kept largely undisturbed. All rock used on site is more than two billion years old, and was originally mined by steelworkers at the old Erie Taconite mine near here. St. Louis County donated the land. Minnesota sculptor Phil Rickey teamed with St. Paul Landscape Architects, Sanders Wacker Bergly, Inc. to design the site, and with Terra Ferma Development in Iron, Minnesota for the construction. LeAnn Littlewolf from Duluth wrote the poem in the entry plaza. Hundreds of generous donors to the Wellstone Action Fund made it all possible.