Black Hawk Statue – Oregon, Illinois

Black Hawk Statue – Oregon, Illinois

The Black Hawk Statue located in Oregon, Illinois is turning 100 years old this year and the community is opening its doors to invite people from all over to help celebrate at the Oregon Trail Days Festival.

The statue is a sculpture by Lorado Taft and is located in Lowden State Park overlooking the Rock River. With the help of John Prasuhn a German sculptor who had experience working with concrete (the medium Taft proposed to use), Taft created a figure 48 feet tall and weighing 536,770 pounds. It is said to be the second largest concrete monolithic statue in the world.

Taft started the design of the statue in 1908, creating smaller studies of what would become the full size statue. On December 20, 1910, workmen began pouring the concrete. Pouring continued night and day for 10 days with up to 28 men working on the project. It was then left until spring to set. The body of the statue is hollow but the head contains the ends of 24 steel rods and is cast in solid concrete.

The statue itself was dedicated on July 4, 1911. Taft noted at the dedication that the statue seemed to have grown out of the ground. It stands on the ground that was once home to the Eagle’s Nest Art Colony, which Taft founded in 1898 and is now part of the Taft Campus of Northern Illinois University and adjacent to Lowden State Park. Though never publicized at the time of construction, when funds were exhausted, future Illinois Governor Frank Lowden had stepped in to ensure the completion of Black Hawk was financially possible.

At the dedication Taft further commented that in the evenings he and members of the Eagle’s Nest Art Colony walked along the bluff and would often stop at the statue’s location to enjoy the view. Contemplation became habitual, arms folded, restful and reverent. Black Hawk came from that contemplative mood and attitude. The 48-foot tall monolith, towering over the river, suggests an unconquered spirit through its composition blending Fox, Sac, Sioux and Mohawk cultures. Taft said the statue was inspired by the Sac leader Black Hawk, although it is not a likeness of the chief. A model is located at the Oregon Public Library.
It is a myth that visitors were allowed to climb stairs to view the valley below (there are no stairs). A rope hung down and a person had to climb hand-over-hand to reach the top.

On November 5, 2009 the Black Hawk Statue was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. A feasibility study completed at the time indicates that Black Hawk is in need of restoration to the tune of $350-$400,000.
In celebration of the 100th anniversary Oregon Trail Days will be held July 16 and 17 at Lowden State Park. The festival will celebrate the Native American and Western heritage of the area.

Mapquest directions from any location to Lowden Miller State Park.

Mapquest directions from any location to downtown Oregon, Illinois.

From Chicago: (less than 2 hours) Take I-290 (Eisenhower Expressway) West to I-88 (toll way). Take I-88 West to I-39. Take I-39 North to Rte. 64. Take Rte. 64 West, across the Rock River and into downtown Oregon to 4th Street (2nd stop light), you are now in the center of the city.

From the Western Suburbs: (about 1 1/2 hours) Take I-88 West to I-39. Take I-39 North to Rte. 64. Take Rte. 64 West, across the Rock River and through Oregon to 4th Street (2nd stop light), you are now in the center of the city.

From Rockford and North: (about 30 minutes) Take Rte. 20 to I-39. Take I-39 South to Rte. 64. Take Rte. 64 West, across the Rock River and through Oregon to 4th Street (2nd stop light), you are now in the center of the city.

From the South: Take I-39 North to Rte. 64. Take Rte. 64 West, across the Rock River and through Oregon to 4th Street (2nd stop light), you are now in the center of the city.

For more information concerning any part of the festival please contact Amy at 500 N 4th Street
Oregon, IL 61061, 815-732-2435 or  
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Comments

  1. I just saw on the news that you are trying to get money to repair the statue.If every family within 30 miles of the statue would donate just $5.00 that would be plenty to do the job.I have been going to see the statue since I moved to Il in 1968 and I still go at least once a year.People as far as Chicago visit and people from out of state I always meet new people from different places everytime I visit the statue.Please let me know if I can help to get the money together.

  2. Frank & Linda says:

    We both were impressed with this Beautiful replica of Black Hawk. Even though NOT the true Image, but still an Image of the True Inhabitants of this great country before the white Europeans appeared on the scene. Where is the Pride and Peace of these great People today?
    [Arizona,NM deserts?] Poverty, Drug use, Alcohol, Rape, obesity and Anger has replaced even these people. What have we done to AMERICA????

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