For more than a century, the Black Hawk statue has stood watch over the Rock River and the City of Oregon. However, for the past several years a giant tarp has covered it as efforts to restore the aging statue were put on hold.
But today, Chief Black Hawk is back and the town is rallying to raise the money necessary to fix him, in the hopes that the tarp doesn’t have to come back indefinitely.
There was a celebration at the base of the Black Hawk statue on Friday morning as the tarp was lifted.
John Lindhorst is part of the Oregon Together Black Hawk Team. He believes the statue’s unwrapping will inspire hope in the community.
“Everybody said it looked like Darth Vader,” Lindhorst said. “It looked really ominous.”
Black Hawk overlooks the Rock River once again.
“It feels pretty exciting,” said Jan Stilson, Chairman of the Black Hawk Restoration Team. “I feel like it’s a historic day in the State of Illinois and especially around the Oregon area.”
The statue still faces the same problems it did when it was first covered in 2015. “The next step is to address whether there’s been additional damage in the last couple of years,” Stilson said.
Chunks of the statue are still missing and cracks are still present. The statue was veiled to make sure Mother Nature didn’t make things worse.
“It’s been a big disappointment and I think some people would even call it an embarrassment, that it’s in that kind of condition,” said Ken Drucks, an Oregon resident.
A fundraising effort to repair the statue is underway.
“We’re going to do several dinners. We’re going to do a ‘put your change in a can’ thing. I have 100 cans with Black Hawk on it that we’ll distribute to school classrooms and also to stores around town,” Lindhorst said. “Hopefully, [we’ll] raise a few thousand that way.”
Lindhorst is also selling Black Hawk t-shirts. He’s even reaching out to people in the entertainment industry. “I’m actually in conversation with a few people in the movie industry in L.A., trying to get them to donate because they have money.”
The new Illinois budget which was passed by the General Assembly yesterday has $350,000 earmarked for restoration costs.
“Hopefully, that $350,000 grant will be funded and they can start work on it this summer,” said Stilson.
Stilson says they still need at least $80,000, but team members would like more to cover unexpected costs as well as maintenance.
“We don’t want this to happen again. We’d like to have a maintenance fund,” Stilson said.
Work on the statue repairs won’t begin until most of the money necessary to fix the statue has been secured, and it will likely be covered again before next Winter.
Donations can be accepted online or by check:
Oregon Together Black Hawk Team
P.O. Box 574
Oregon, IL 61061
Also, Lindhorst is selling t-shirts for $20. Those can be purchased at his shop “Ukulele Station America” at 1000 W. Washington St., Oregon.