OREGON – The wait is over: The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has given its blessing to a plan to repair the 103-year-old Black Hawk statue that has been damaged by weather and time.
“It’s my understanding that the IDNR has approved the plan,” Frank Rausa of Sterling said Tuesday. “Now all that’s left to do is issuing contracts. We’re making progress.”
Rausa is a member of the Friends of the Black Hawk Statue, the organization spear-heading restoration and fundraising efforts.
The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency OK’d the plan last week.
Approval from both agencies was needed for the work to move forward.
The statue, which overlooks the Rock River from a high bluff at Lowden State Park near Oregon, is under the IDNR’s jurisdiction. The agency received a $350,000 grant for the project from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
Because the statue has landmark status, IHPA also had to sign off. Black Hawk has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2009.
Created by sculptor Lorado Taft in 1910 as a tribute to all Native Americans, the statue draws thousands of visitors each year. It was unveiled in 1911.
Testing and evaluations done last fall and this spring by Thornton Tomasetti of Chicago, an architectural firm that provides engineering design, investigation, and analysis services to clients worldwide, showed that three areas of the statue greatly needed repairs.
Chunks of the concrete have fallen from its folded arms, and more areas are loose and ready to fall.
Preparation work began in mid-July when a crew removed the bushes and limestone blocks from around the base of the statue and put up a fence around it. Scaffolding was delivered late last week.
Special stairs are needed for the scaffolding, but once they are secured and the scaffolding is in place, the repair team will begin testing various mixtures of concrete and other materials to see which one will work the best.
A rededication ceremony will be held once the work is done, probably in July.
So far, about $725,000 has been raised for repairs; $75,000 to $100,000 more likely be needed to complete the project, Rausa said.
Donations can be mailed to Illinois Conservation Foundation, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702. Make checks payable the Illinois Conservation Foundation, and write Black Hawk statue in the memo field.