Standing on Eagle's Nest Bluff 300 feet above the Rock River near Oregon, Illinois is the immense concrete figure of an Indian, his arms folded beneath a long blanket. His face expresses the sadness of a dispossessed people. Although called Black Hawk, the 48-foot statue represents all the Indians who once lived along the Rock River. This heroic work was conceived by the eminent sculptor, Lorado Taft, more than 70 years ago.
CREATING THE MOLD
To begin, workers excavated about 13 feet to bedrock and built a square central tower 38 feet tall, to which a shaped framework of wood was attached. Wire netting was used over the wood frame to shape curves of the statue, and about 200 yards of burlap was applied over the netting to cover the surface. The huge head was molded on the ground in clay and a separate plaster cast of it was made. Final shaping of the body of the huge model was the next step. The surface was given a thin coat of plaster to stiffen the burlap. Then a slurry of clay mixed with water was applied to assure release of the mold later. With the shape of the Indian's body now determined, the plaster mold for the concrete statue was created around the modeled figure. The gigantic mold of fiber-reinforced plaster was supported by four 30-foot I-beams blocked up on cribbing timbers at the level of the future pedestal.
REINFORCING STEEL PLACED
A tower of reinforcement was built, 8 feet in diameter, ending in a dome just below the neck of the statue. It was designed to support the concrete head and shoulders. In all, a total of 2 tons of reinforcing bars were needed.
MIXING AND CASTING CONCRETE
Approximately 238 cubic yards of concrete was used. The work required 20 tons of pink granite screenings in the outer layer of concrete, giving the surface a pinkish granite appearance. There were several mixes, with different ratios of cement to aggregate: for the solid base, 1 to 5; for the pedestal and steps going down into the statue, 1 to 4; for the Indian figure, 1 to 3.