Root builds impressive replica of The United States Flag

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A replica of the United States flag measuring 32 feet wide and 17 feet from top to bottom was designed by Ken Root of Esmann Island. The flag is made primarily from wood purchased from Meuser Lumber Co. and sturdy white plastic for the stripes donated by Koelker Plastics Inc. in Dyersville. (Photo submitted)

By Caroline Rosacker

Esmann and Abel Island are home to a unique river community comprised of full and part-time residents. The peninsula is located just north of Guttenberg in scenic Pool 10 of the Mississippi River. The residents of this peaceful, hidden oasis recently gathered, under the direction of Ken Root, to assist with the construction of a large, impressive replica of the United States Flag. 

Ken Root, newly-retired from his career as an agricultural news reporter, and former part-owner of the Agribusiness Radio Network, was the inspiration for the project. He commented, "It was the best thousand dollars I ever spent!" Root's career highlights included a radio show called AgriTalk. The agricultural reporter also wrote for the High Plains Journal and continues to write a column for the publication.

Root told The Press, "The flag is between our two seawalls on Esmann Island. My wife, Jane, and I have been working on improving the property so that two homes can be built there. The replica measures 32 feet wide and 17 feet from top to bottom. It is made primarily from wood we purchased from Meuser Lumber Co. The white plastic, for the stripes, was donated by Koelker Plastics Inc., in Dyersville."

"This thing is a LOT bigger than I would have built!" said Jane Root, who gained more enthusiasm as it finally looked like her husband would complete the project. 

Root described the dimensions. "We began with a blue field measuring eight by 12 feet where we rowed 50 stars in the proper manner. The red stripes are two boards (1 x 8 inches) laid side by side. The white stripes are five millimeter polyethylene plastic that is commonly used for wrapping hay bales or lining livestock waste facilities and silos. The supporting structure was built from nine wooden joists that slant the entire structure 25 degrees toward the river," he said.

"I wish we could stand it straight up but the wind would certainly tear it down in the first gale," said Root, who designed the project.

Root hired Clayton Ridge High School students Caleb Helle and Brandon Thiese to help build the structure for the flag. "We worked about three days to get everything in place to start setting the flag on top," said Root. "They did the jobs a 71-year-old man can't do. Sometimes I referred to them as 'willing' and 'able' as both students brought energy to the project."

"In the final push, we painted enough boards to fill our garage and have them ready to assemble. We also cut and re-rolled a piece of white plastic that measured 34 by 20 feet. We positioned volunteers between the joists to hold the plastic in place while others secured the red stripes to complete the flag.  

"We hope to let it stand until Labor Day and then disassemble and store. Next year, pending other use of the lots, we will put it up again. The money is spent and the engineering will be tested, so next year is likely to be a whole lot easier," he noted. 

Sharing the couple's gratitude, Jane said, "We would like to thank the community and The Guttenberg Press for their interest in the construction of the big United States flag on Esmann Island. We have some construction workers here today who could be out working on their own projects, but are here to help out. People have really embraced Ken's project." He shared, "As you can see, it has been a great way to bring the community together." 

Boaters and tows will be able to see the flag on the west side of the river about two miles north of downtown Guttenberg. "Honk and wave if you like it!" he encouraged.

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