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Studies to begin this summer to determine how to fix the Black Hawk statue

Published: Thursday, June 13, 2013 4:34 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, June 13, 2013 4:36 p.m. CDT
Pieces of the Black Hawk Statue have fallen from the right elbow of the 102-year-old statue. Repairs are slated to begin on the landmark next year. Photo by Earleen Hinton
Years of weather have created cracks in Oregon's landmark Black Hawk Statue. Photo by Earleen Hinton

Studies will be done this summer on how best to repair Oregon's best known landmark.

Chris McCloud, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) said Tuesday that IDNR officials have selected an architectural firm to examine and document the damage and needed repairs to the 102-year-old Black Hawk statue.

"The architectural firm chosen has expertise in artistic projects," McCloud said.

He said the firm will submit a report of its findings to the IDNR by fall, and repair work is slated to begin in the spring of 2014.

The statue is located at Lowden State Park and is under the jurisdiction of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

McCloud said all of the funding has been secured for the project. Although, he did not have an exact amount, the cost of the restoration has been previously estimated at $625,000.

The ravages of time and weather have caused statue to crack, and large pieces of its concrete surface have dislodged. The folded arms of the 50-foot monolith have been especially affected.

More than half the money for the project came from a $350,000 grant the IDNR received from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

The rest came from donations, as well as some funds raised during the annual Oregon Trail Days festival held at Lowden State Park since 2010.

A large contributor was the Jeffris Family Foundation, Janesville, Wis., which gave a $150,000 matching grant.

Frank Rausa, a member of The Friends of the Blackhawk Statue Committee, said in January that the architectural firm will conduct extensive physical testing and examination of the statue.

A laser scanning will provide a permanent record of the statue and include drawings, plans, and elevations of the statue for use in the current restoration and in future years, Rausa said.

Physical testing and concrete samples will be taken from the statue to determine the extent of deterioriation since the statue was last examined 5 years ago.

These concrete samples will be subjected to a petrographic examination and materials testing in order to develop repair materials that are historically compatible, Rausa said.

Created by sculptor Lorado Taft in 1911 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the statue is located on a 125-foot bluff overlooking the Rock River north of Oregon. It draws 400,000 visitors a year, tourism officials say.

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