Black Hawk

Guy Stephens

Work is finally set to begin on the restoration of an iconic Illinois statue.

Scaffolding has been erected around Lorado Taft’s statue. Known to many as “Black Hawk,” (Taft himself called it "The Eternal Indian") it overlooks the Rock River near Oregon. The crumbling concrete figure has been swaddled in black tarp the last few years to protect it from the elements. Soon, that will come off and restoration work will begin.  

Guy Stephens/ WNIJ

The monumental statue known as “Black Hawk” will once again gaze over the Rock River near Oregon, Illinois – at least for the summer. 

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources swaddled the crumbling statue in heavy black plastic in 2016 to protect it from the elements. That replaced scaffolding and green mesh covering it the two years before that.

Ed Cross of the IDNR said the department now plans to uncover Lorado Taft’s creation to highlight a local campaign raising funds to restore it.

Guy Stephens / WNIJ

An effort to restore an Ogle County icon is advancing, but there’s still no money for actual repairs. 

The years have not been kind to Lorado Taft’s monumental statue, known to many as “Black Hawk.” Standing high on a bluff overlooking the Rock River near Oregon, it’s literally falling to pieces.  

Illinois State Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Rochelle, says he’s been in regular contact with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, which has authority over the statue. Demmer says that, despite the lack of a budget and other problems, some progress is being made.

Guy Stephens / WNIJ

The protective covering around a towering statue near Oregon has been removed.  But it’s not because the work is finished.  The restoration of the 105-year-old work by sculptor Lorado Taft is on hold. Backers of the repairs worry what will happen to it in the meantime.

Guy Stephens / WNIJ

Repairs are on hold to the 105-year-old Black Hawk statue that overlooks the Rock River in northern Illinois.

    

Sauk Valley Media reports that the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is looking for a general contractor to replace Forest Park conservator Andrzej Dajnowski.

Dajnowski says he declined to sign the contract the IDNR sent him for this year because it stipulated repairs be done in a certain way.

Dajnowski says the department hired an engineer who wanted to remove more of the statue's surface than is necessary.

Lincoln Was Here: Connecting The Dots In Northern Illinois

Apr 22, 2015
Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Abraham Lincoln died 150 years ago. He was shot while attending a play at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. Tourists to Illinois often head to Springfield to learn more about the 16th President. That’s not the only place to learn about his life and legacy. Susan Stephens and Jenna Dooley set out to trace his steps across northern Illinois.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

The time has finally come. After years of fund-raising, months of tests, and waiting for recent state approval, an effort has begun to restore the  statue almost universally known as "Black Hawk." Lorado Taft created it 103 years ago on a bluff overlooking the Rock River near Oregon, Ill. Taft called it "The Eternal Indian."