OREGON, Ill. — The Illinois landmark known as the Eternal Indian statue is finally complete after years of planning and fundraising.
The scaffolding surrounding the sculpture, also known as Black Hawk, is being removed and should be completely taken down within two weeks, the Rockford Register Star reported.
The city of Oregon is ready to celebrate the 109-year-old statue's makeover, Mayor Ken Williams said.
"We've received messages and comments from all over the country," Williams said. "People who have visited the statue, people who used to live in the area and they've followed the progress of what's happened and the problems with the statue as it deteriorated. Now that it's repaired and restored, it is very important to the community."
In 2015, an effort was launched to restore the statue, Illinois Conservation Foundation executive director Crystal Curfman said.
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Restoration efforts paused in 2016 after the conservator and the project engineer disagreed over how much of the statue's exterior concrete skin needed to be removed. The statue sat under a black tarp for about two years.
In 2018, the nonprofit Black Hawk Restoration Team was formed to jump-start the project. The organization raised about $270,000 in donations from the private sector and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources was awarded a $350,000 grant for the restoration.
"I think that just shows how valuable this monument is to the people from this area who grew up here and possibly still live here or moved away because they really supported it," said organization chairperson Jan Stilson. "It really was a grassroots effort."
Workers began erecting the scaffolding in September after repair work was to begin in spring of 2018.
An unveiling ceremony is being planned for the spring.
"It's been an icon for the Sauk Valley and the city of Oregon for years and years," Williams said. "We are largely an ecotourism community and that's a prime draw for us. We expect to see a lot of tourism pick up just because the statue is finished. People are excited to see what it looks like now that it's no longer under wraps."