A Labor Day hiking trip lead us to Oregon…but not the state of Oregon. Instead, we were lead to the town of Oregon, Illinois, where Lowden State Park is located.
Researching and reading up on the trails at the park (as I usually do when hiking a new park), I learned this park is home of the famous statue in tribute to Native Americans created and sculpted by Lorado Taft along with the help of sculptor, John G. Prasuhn from the Chicago Art Institute. Originally called The Eternal Indian, it is most commonly known as the Black Hawk Statue. Dedicated in 1911, the statue is now 105 years old.
Fun Factoids: The statue stands 125 feet above the Rock River, though its height only accounts for 48 feet of that. Black Hawk weighs in at 536,770 pounds and is said to be the second largest concrete monolithic statue in the world. It wears a long blanket and stares across the river with folded arms.
At the dedication of the statue on July 1, 1911, Taft said that in the evenings he and members of the Eagle’s Nest Art Colony walked along the bluff and would often stop at the statue’s location to enjoy the view from the bluff. Contemplation became habitual, arms folded, restful and reverent. Black Hawk came from that contemplative mood and attitude. The 48-foot (15 m) tall monolith, towering over the river, suggests an unconquered spirit through its composition blending Fox, Sauk, Sioux and Mohawk cultures. Taft said the statue was inspired by the Sauk leader Black Hawk, although it is not a likeness of the chief.
The statue is in need of restoration as some of the concrete has worn away. Plans have been made by Friends of the Black Hawk Statue Committee to begin restoration work in Spring 2014. Although delayed, resumed physical integrity tests and restoration restarted in Summer 2015. I was sad to learn current efforts to restore the statue have been halted and the scaffolding erected for the repairs has been removed due to a dispute between the project manager and an engineer working on the statue. Hopefully, an agreement can be reached to repair this beautiful statue, sooner rather than later.
On November 5, 2009 the Black Hawk Statue was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The listing has opened up the statue to federal funding for repairs.