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Oregon Sculpture Trail
The Oregon Sculpture Trail began in 1911 with the creation of Lorado Taft's sculpture, "The Eternal Indian"-commonly referred to as Black Hawk. Since that time, Oregon's legacy of art has expanded to include numerous pieces including: "The Holy Family," "The Soldiers' Monument," "The Blind," "The Fish Boys" and "Paths of Conviction, Footsteps of Fate." Today visitors to Oregon can enjoy a sculpture tour while driving through Oregon on Illinois Route 2.

1) The Eternal Indian (known as Black Hawk)
In 1911 when the sculpture was dedicated, Lorado Taft noted that the statue had essentially grown from the ground. He related that often in the evening members of the Eagle's Nest Association would walk along the bluff and stop where the statue now rests to enjoy the view. A contemplative attitude became a habit, with arms folded in the pose of the Indian, restful and reverent. The statue grew from that attitude. The 48-foot statue is a composite of the Fox, Sac, Sioux, and Mohawk and suggests a spirit unconquered while still a conquered race. The Indian wears a long blanket and stands with folded arms gazing across the Rock River from its eastern bank. Resting 125 feet above the river, "Black Hawk" stands as a proud sentry welcoming visitors to Oregon. The statue stands on a 6-foot base, weighs 536,770 lbs., and it is said to be the second-tallest monolithic concrete statue in the world.

2) The Holy Family
St. Mary's church, located at the corner of Route 2 and Monroe St., is home to The Holy Family. Created by sculptor, David Seagraves, the nine-foot statue depicts Joseph hoisting the young Jesus above his shoulder, much as a father would today. A smiling Christ Child reaches to place a wreath of lilies on the head of his own Blessed Mother. The figures are dressed in sturdy attire, Joseph as a carpenter with a box of tools at his feet. Mary's dress has a long skirt, with flowing lines, which even in stone appears to move in the winds blowing over the Illinois prairies. Carved from and 8-ton block of Indiana limestone, the sculpture took 2 years to complete. It was presented by an anonymous donor in honor of the Holy Family as part of the centennial celebration and renovation of the church. Bishop Arthur J. O'Neill blessed it on June 29, 1991.

3) The Soldiers' Monument
Gracing the southeast corner of the Ogle County Courthouse lawn is the Soldiers' Monument. Dedicated Sept. 4, 1916, the statue was created to honor more than 3,500 Ogle county veterans of the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, and the War of 1812 and the Mexican War. Lorado Taft offered to help fin a suitable location for the proposed heavy bronze plates cast with names. He contributed a year's work to the creation of the monument for which architects, Pond and Pond, designed the exedra, on which the bronze plates and threes figures are mounted. The bronze center figure, holding two laurel wreaths represents America Two solider statues, cut from marble, represent an infantryman, looking north longingly toward home, and a cavalryman on the right, turned defiantly toward the south, his hand on the hilt of this sword. Subsequently, a bronze tablet listing World War I veterans was added to the front of the monument, near America's outstretched left hand.

4) The Blind
Located one block east of Route 2 is the Oregon Public Library. It is home to many works of art all associated with members or guests of the Eagle's Nest Artist Colony. Among them is a plaster cast of "The Blind," a symbolic statuary group created by Taft in 1908. Inspired by Maeterlinck's tragic drama, "Les Aveugles" (The Blind), the statue portrays a group of blind adults lost in a forest. With them is a small child, who is too young to speak, but having sight. Lifted high to catch the distant glimmer of light, the promise of salvation, the child represents a symbol of hope. The finished statue is located at the Krammert Art Museum, University of Illinois, Urbana.

5) The Fish Boys
Further south, located in Mix Park, is a fountain, known as The Fish Boys. Also created by Lorado Taft, the figures are of two boys, kneeling on the sides of a shallow pool, each smiling and holding a large fish. Water flows from the mouth of each fish and splashes softly into the pool below. The original figures were designed and cast in bronze as part of Taft's fountain of the Great Lakes, a 1913 work placed south of the Chicago Art Institute. Those in Oregon are constructed of a special blend of concrete and crushed quartz incorporating pebbles from the Potomac River.

6) Paths of Conviction, Footsteps of Fate
Oregon's newest sculpture, a 13-foot bronze statue, combining the figures of Black Hawk and Abraham Lincoln, sits on the very edge of Mix Park. It is intended as a reflection of the convictions, struggles and fate of both men, whose paths crossed briefly in this area in 1832. Black Hawk has been depicted faithfully from paintings and a life mask while the Lincoln image is a composite of all 64 documented photographs. The statue, created by noted local sculptor Jeff Adams, portrays Black Hawk symbolically clinging to the rock with one hand while the other is raised defiantly, clutching a piece of buffalo robe. This is the only covering left him. His children and land are lost. Lincoln's convection led him on to the great struggle for the preservation of the Union and the fate of immortalized martyrdom. This statue was dedicated Oct. 13, 2002.

7) From the Waters Comes My Bounty
The newest addition to the Sculpture Trail by sculptor Ray Kobald of St Charles, is now in place above the dam in Oregon's Kiwanis Park. The 7 foot-tall sculpture will have a permanent home for generations to come by the Rock River as does Lorago Taft's "Eternal Indian."

Other Area Sculpture sites include:

  • River's Edge Foundry, Inc.,
  • Jeff Adams' inBronze Studio/Gallery/Foundry,
    Mount Morris
  • Art Casting of Illinois, Inc.,Oregon
  • Ogle County Historical Museum, Oregon
  • Oregon Public Library

Click here for a map of the tour.

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