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Assessing the damage to Black Hawk Statue

Repairs planned for weathered chief

OREGON – Ogle County's most famous centenarian is getting a 3-D full-body scan this week.

Structural engineers began work Tuesday to determine the condition of the Black Hawk Statue before they decide the best way to repair the 102-year-old concrete sculpture.

Aldo De La Haza and Daniel Schultz, who work for the Dynasty Group in Chicago, used technology to look beneath the surface of the statue, which sits on a high bluff at Lowden State Park, northeast of Oregon.

De La Haza said his company has been hired to investigate the condition of the structure and do non-destructive testing.

Their high-tech scanners allow them to see inside the concrete to assess the statue's condition and to determine the amount and location of steel reinforcing.

Another company will do scanning with rotating lasers to create an exact three-dimensional model of the statue, he said.

The findings will help to determine what needs to be done to repair and preserve the statue, which has been ravaged by time and weather.

The statue, which is under the authority of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, has cracks, and large pieces of its concrete surface have dislodged. The folded arms of the 50-foot monolith have been especially affected.

The cost of the assessment and repairs has been estimated at $625,000.

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

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

A large contributor was the Jeffris Family Foundation in 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 laser scanning would provide a permanent record of the statue and include drawings, plans and elevations of the statue to use in the current restoration and in future years.

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

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