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Winter weather delays tests on Black Hawk

Published: Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

OREGON – Early winter weather this month has delayed the final tests on the Black Hawk statue.

Frank Rausa of Sterling, who is heading up an effort to repair the 102-year-old world-renowned icon, said experts will likely return in early January to Lowden State Park, where the statue stands on a high bluff overlooking the Rock River.

Three experts – a structural engineer, preservation architect, and conservation architect – will be on the site to do further study of the repairs that are needed to reverse the effects of time and weather and preserve the statue.

“They’re going to spend a couple of days doing some sound testing,” Rausa said. “We just need a little weather cooperation.”

The experts had planned to do the last tests early this month, until several snowstorms and frigid weather prevented that.

A team of experts spent nearly a week in October examining the damage to the statue and performing tests.

Created by sculptor Lorado Taft in 1911 as a tribute to all Native Americans and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the statue is on a 125-foot bluff. It draws thousands of visitors each year.

The statue has developed cracks, and large pieces of its concrete surface have dislodged. The folded arms of the 50-foot monolith have been especially affected.

The cost for the assessment and repairs was estimated at $625,000. Much of that money has been raised.

Rausa, a member of The Friends of the Blackhawk Statue Committee, said the price tag for the study and repairs is up to $700,000 now and could go even higher.

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

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

To donate

Donations can be mailed to Illinois Conservation Foundation, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield IL 62702.

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