Studies to begin this summer on how to repair Black Hawk

Funds secured to repair 102-year-old Taft artwork

By Vinde Wells, Editor, Oregon Republican Reporter (online)

June 13, 2013, Volume 163, Number 26

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 IDNR.

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 the 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 deterioration since the statue was last examined five 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.