- Associated Press - Sunday, April 15, 2018

OREGON, Ill. (AP) - Groups are working to complete restoration of a century-old landmark known as the Black Hawk statue in northern Illinois.

The 48-foot-tall, 270-ton landmark in Lowden State Park has been covered in black protective sheets since a restoration effort that started five years ago came to a halt amid a lack of state funding and a dispute on the restoration team stopped work on the attraction.

“It looks like it’s wrapped in a trash bag,” said Jan Stilson, chairman of the Oregon Together group’s Black Hawk Restoration Team. “It’s just really sad.”

Representatives from the state Department of Natural Resources, the state Conservation Foundation, Lowden State Park, the Northern Illinois University Taft Field Campus and members of community group Oregon Together met in March to discuss the statue’s future.

The meeting helped the groups figure out how and when to complete the work, said Eric Schenck, executive director of the conservation foundation.

The groups likely would have to raise about $500,000 to complete the restoration.

“I think it’s doable,” said Frank Rausa, 75, who attended the meeting. “There are still some angels who are willing to help, and I’ve got to believe in miracles.”

Rausa and his late-wife led an earlier rehabilitation fundraising campaign, known as the Friends of the Black Hawk Statue.

Attendance to Lowden State Park appears to have fallen since the statue’s been covered, officials said. The attraction had previously drawn about 400,000 visitors a year.

The state plans to remove the protecting wrapping and install lights this year to renew enthusiasm around the restoration’s efforts.

Lorado Taft sculpted the Eternal Indian statue, which is also known as Black Hawk or Rock River Colossus. It was dedicated in 1911 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.

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