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Study of damage to 1911 Indian statue due soon

November 28, 2013

OREGON, Ill. (AP) — Volunteers working to restore a statue of a Native American overlooking the Rock River in northern Illinois say a damage assessment is expected next week and repairs could begin early next year.

Sauk Valley Media reports (http://bit.ly/1iXd7eV ) structural engineers examined the massive, 102-year-old statute last fall to determine what it would take to reverse the effects of time and weather and protect it from future damage.

Frank Rausa of Sterling, who is leading the effort, said the cost of the study and repairs could exceed $700,000. Rausa and his wife, Charron, have been helping raise money for the project.

“It’s the most rewarding thing we’ve ever done,” Charron said.

Sculptor Lorado Taft created the 50-foot statue in 1911 as a tribute to all Native Americans. A newspaper article from the time says Taft indicated the concrete statue was inspired by Black Hawk, the famous Sauk Indian leader, but it’s not a likeness of him.

It sits atop a 125-foot bluff at Lowden State Park and draws about 400,000 visitors annually.

Over the years the statue, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has developed cracks and pieces of concrete have dislodged. Its folded arms have been especially affected.

More than half of the money raised so far is from a $350,000 Illinois Department of Natural Resources grant. The rest is from donations and fundraisers.

Rausa said the Chicago Blackhawks hockey team recently gave a sizable donation, though he declined to say how much.

The repair work could begin as soon as the weather is warm enough, Rausa said.


Information from: Dixon Telegraph, http://www.saukvalley.com

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