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updated: 9/3/2014 10:00 AM

Peru man builds totem pole for camp

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  • Dan Wilcoxen, left, of Peru, secures his handmade Boy Scout totem pole on a trailer with help of his scouting friend, Wilbur Williamson of Bloomington.

      Dan Wilcoxen, left, of Peru, secures his handmade Boy Scout totem pole on a trailer with help of his scouting friend, Wilbur Williamson of Bloomington.
    Associated Press

 
By JEFF DANKERT
(LaSalle) News-Tribune

PERU -- On Aug. 12, Dan Wilcoxen of Peru drove his pickup truck 100 miles southwest to pick up a flatbed trailer near London Mills and tow it back to his home.

His friend from Bloomington, Wilbur Williamson, backed the trailer into the driveway and helped load Wilcoxen's handmade 20-foot totem pole onto the trailer. It required old-time ice tongs, some pipes, boards, heavy chains and screws to secure it to the trailer.

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Wilcoxen, a 25-year assistant scoutmaster with Boy Scout Troop 123 in Peru, spent part of his summer carving and painting the telephone pole, turning it into the Wenasa Quenhotan Lodge 23 Boy Scout totem pole.

The pole was made from an 800-pound telephone post he got from a scouting friend. After a lunch break Tuesday, the men drove the truck with trailer and totem back down to the Ingersoll Scout Reservation near London Mills.

There, on Sept. 19-21, will be the fall conclave for the Wenasa Quenhotan Lodge. And Wilcoxen's totem pole will be erected and dedicated.

From top to bottom are symbols representing the lodge and scouting. At the bottom is corn.

"The totem for our lodge is an ear of corn," Wilcoxen said.

Next is a teepee representing camping and service in the Order of the Arrow. Next is the world scout emblem, or the fleur-de-lis. At the top is an eagle head -- eagle is the highest rank of a Boy Scout. A notch in the pole will accommodate Wilcoxen's handmade eagle wings. They were loaded into the truck.

Wilcoxen had help painting the symbols from Joelyn Anderson, an art teacher at La Salle-Peru Township High School. Wilcoxen used a router and chisel to carve the symbols.

Wilcoxen's wife of 44 years, Leann, said their two sons were Eagle Scouts. She has been drawn into this world and helps whenever she can. On Tuesday, she lent a hand removing the pipes after the men rolled the log onto the trailer.

"It's really enriched our lives through his activities," she said. "I love to see my husband so excited about something. It's a labor of love for him."

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