Black Hawk statue

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.  

Rock River Ride Day 4: Oregon To Prophetstown

Jun 14, 2018
Carl Nelson

A strange night for me last night: camped at home with my own warm shower (I’d give me a positive review), but also still on the ride with Carl, who slept in our basement and ate fresh eggs from our chickens and tortillas from a grocery store.

Guy Stephens / Black Hawk, Blackhawk, Lorado Taft

An Oregon group supporting restoration of the statue known as Black Hawk wants to establish a dedicated fund to keep it maintained. 

The statue was uncovered recently after being wrapped up for the past few years. Observers noticed some further damage to the statue, and the restoration work isn’t complete.  

The recently passed state budget allocates another $350,000 to the project, but members of Oregon Together, a nonprofit supporting the statue’s restoration, want to go further. 

Guy Stephens/ WNIJ

A northern Illinois legislator said efforts to restore an iconic statue near Oregon continue, but slowly, and completion is still up in the air.

State Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, said he has made it a priority to stay in contact with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources regarding restoration of the monumental Lorado Taft statue known to many as “Black Hawk.” Taft himself referred to it as "The Eternal Indian".

More than a hundred years of exposure, neglect and botched previous attempts to repair the statue have left it disfigured, cracked and crumbling.

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.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Now in its 20th year, this statewide list from the group Landmarks Illinois "calls attention to threatened historic resources in need of assistance in the form of responsible stewardship, creative reuse plans, and/or advances in public policy."

A news release issued this week finds "the slow economic recovery, state budget crisis, and a lack of available financing continue to challenge historic sites throughout Illinois."