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updated: 6/11/2014 4:30 PM

Harsh winter damages historic Black Hawk statue

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  • Fencing around the 50-foot Black Hawk statue at Lowden State Park protects visitors in case more parts fall off.

    Fencing around the 50-foot Black Hawk statue at Lowden State Park protects visitors in case more parts fall off.
    Associated Press

Associated Press

OREGON, Ill. -- The brutal winter was rough on the more than century-old Black Hawk statue in northern Illinois.

Frank Rausa, who is leading the effort to repair the historic figure with Friends of the Black Hawk Statue, said Tuesday that tests on the statue in the fall and spring indicated the damage was worse than they had believed.

"The damage that has taken place in the past year is extensive," Rausa told The Telegraph in Dixon.

He said experts found significant changes in the statue's condition from October to April.

The 50-foot-tall Ogle County statue stands on a 125-foot bluff overlooking the Rock River at Lowden State Park. It pays tribute to American Indians and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Rausa, of Sterling, said organizers hope to start restoration work this summer. He said a news conference is planned to discuss the extent of the damage and plans for repairs.

Large pieces of the statue's concrete surface have dislodged, and chunks of its arms have fallen. Orange fencing went up earlier this week at the base of the statue to protect visitors in case more parts fall off.

In October, engineers used high-tech scanners to see inside the concrete and assess its condition and steel reinforcing. Other experts scanned the statue with rotating lasers to create a 3-D model. Testing also include ground-penetrating radar and ultrasonic tomography.

Repair work is estimated to cost $700,000 or more. More than half of that money will come from a state grant. The rest will be paid for with other grant money, donations and fundraisers.

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