Illinois' Black Hawk statue repairs are almost finished

Updated 12/14/2019 11:08 AM

OREGON, Ill. -- The restoration project for a northern Illinois landmark known as the Black Hawk statue is near completion after funding and weather-related delays.

The 108-year-old monument at Lowden State Park has spent most of the past five years beneath plastic covering to protect it from harsh weather.


"So if you're younger than 108 years old and you've driven by him or visited Lowden Park, you're acquainted with Black Hawk. He has a mystique about him that captures people's hearts," said Jan Stilson, of the Black Hawk art, restoration and development committee.

Standing at 48 feet (576 inches) tall, the statue overlooks the Rock River in Oregon. It is one of the tallest concrete monolith statues in the world.

Lorado Taft, the sculptor who designed it, dedicated the statue as a tribute to Native Americans in 1911 and named it The Eternal Indian.

When the state finally made good on a matching state grant of $350,000 to fund the statue's restoration last year, it opened the door for more private donations.

"It's unbelievable. We still get checks everyday at the ICF for people to continue funding for restoration after the project is complete," said Crystal Curfman, executive director of the Illinois Conservation Foundation.

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The statue's arms had to be fully replaced, WLS-TV reported. The head needed to be repaired and most of the decayed exterior concrete has been chipped away and replaced with a new, less permeable concrete mix.

Stainless steel pins serve as markers for the statue's skin, and the new mix is shaped by hand with trowels.

The project is expected to be completed at the end of December.

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