The Black Hawk statue in Illinois is more than a century old. Frank and Charron Rausa know that it’s high time that the iconic piece of art gets some TLC.
As Clifford Ward and Ted Gregory of the Chicago Tribune report, the Rausa’s led the charge to restore the Black Hawk, or “Eternal Indian” statue. The statue must make it through winter before upgrade work begins in spring.
The slightly mournful face of what some might consider Illinois’ Statue of Liberty has weathered its 102 years remarkably well. It’s a focal point of The Eternal Indian, a 50-foot statue that towers over the Rock River about 100 miles west of Chicago near Oregon, Ill.
But the body is so deteriorated that a flip of the finger can loosen chunks of its concrete surface. Deep cracks and gaping pockmarks spread throughout the statue.
The restoration of the statue is set to begin next spring.
“When we were there the other day, I just said, ‘Hold on, chief. Help’s on its way,’” said Charron Rausa, 77, of Sterling, Ill. “We’re praying that we don’t have a really bad winter because he’s in bad shape.”
Its prospects would be much bleaker if it weren’t for the Rausas, both retirees who in 2008 read a local newspaper story about the loss of state funding to restore the statue, which draws about 400,000 visitors a year. They’d grown deeply fond of the statue as a contemplative local landmark that preserves important history of the region.
“I sat there at the kitchen table and said, ‘Frank, the American people fixed the Statue of Liberty. Now, doggone it, we need to fix the Black Hawk statue.’”
To raise the money for the statue restoration, the Rausa’s started a “Pennies for Black Hawk” campaign. The NHL Chicago Blackhawk teams also contributed to the cause.
To view a video about the restoration, click here.