- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 24, 2014

WACO, Texas (AP) - Waco workers have installed the final pieces of a bronze tribute to cowboys and cattle, completing an eight-year, $1.65 million project.

The Branding the Brazos sculpture project features three cowboys - one white, one Hispanic and one black - and 25 cows, the Waco Tribune-Herald (http://bit.ly/1GXynvV ) reported. It was finished Tuesday when the last two longhorn cattle and the final cowboy took their place at the end of the Indian Spring Park Herd.

The artwork by 74-year-old Texas sculptor Robert Summers pays tribute to Waco’s location as a spot on the Chisholm Trial for cattle drives from South Texas to Kansas. The project was largely funded by Waco businessman Clifton Robinson.

“Every time you look here, you see people wandering around (the steers), taking pictures,” said Liz Taylor, director of the Waco Convention Center and Visitors Bureau. “And every time they take a picture, they take a memory of Waco away.”

Summers modeled the African-American cowboy after Holt Collier, an actual cowboy and bear hunter most known for accompanying President Theodore Roosevelt on a 1902 bear hunt.

Collier, told to make sure the president got a bear, tracked one down and tied it to a tree. But Roosevelt refused to shoot the animal. The incident reported in newspapers around the country led to a toymaker naming his stuffed toy bear “Teddy’s bear.”

Summers, who supervised the installation this week, said he had mixed emotions about seeing the project completed. After spending up to 15 hours a day working on some of the sculptures, he said he can’t help but feel attached. Revisiting some of his old art brings memories of him working on it, he said.

“It’s like visiting with an old friend after 10 years,” he said.

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Information from: Waco Tribune-Herald, http://www.wacotrib.com

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