The Ottumwa Courier

Wapello County

February 28, 2013

Chief Wapello’s restoration is underway

Conservation of 119-year-old statue on schedule, completion date not set yet

OTTUMWA — The work on restoring Chief Wapello to his original glory is progressing.

The 119-year-old statue had stood atop the Wapello County Courthouse for decades before he was ripped from his perch during a high-powered wind storm last June.

“He had a fair amount of damage over the years,” said Wapello County Supervisor Steve Siegel. “They’re going to rig up a new way to attach him so he’ll last a couple hundred years this time.”

That “rig” is a new armature, the structural piece that will hold the chief in place once he’s atop the courthouse again.

“We’re replacing the internal armature with stainless steel and we’ve straightened out a number of pieces and parts, including moccasins and hands; one of his legs was badly damaged and feathers and his face,” said Rob Jensen, director of Jensen Conservation Services Inc. in Omaha, Neb. “In theory, now the building should go before the chief.”

When the chief was first constructed, the manufacturer used mild steel for the armature, which was “fairly traditional” at the time, he said.

“Stainless steel was not widely available the first part of last century,” he said. “There are any number of sculptures in the country that have mild steel armatures in them.”

Before he fell, the armature that went 3 feet down into the courthouse ran up through one of Chief Wapello’s feet and all the way up through his head.

“Over time, it rusted, and when we had that big wind storm, it snapped,” Siegel said.

It likely would have snapped at some point due to the rusted support, Siegel said, though “who knows when.”

The conservation of Chief Wapello is right on schedule, Jensen said, though a completion date has not been set.

“The issue with completion is frankly we’re going to work on it until we get him right,” Jensen said. “It’s nothing completely unexpected. We’re just going to take our time and when he comes back, he’ll look very good.”

Jensen did find more damage once he began working on the chief.

“Not being able to see the back, we couldn’t lift and turn it around without some kind of hydraulic assist,” he said.

When they were able to turn him over, they found that the back of his arm, his arrows and his bow had caved in, which they hadn’t originally been able to see from the front.

“But it’s nothing that’s going to cause any dramatic shift in our approach,” he said.

Looking at the statue, Jensen said he can tell it’s been patched before.

“I do believe he’s been out playing with other children, because he appears to have some bullet holes in him,” Jensen said, though he couldn’t tell for sure.

Original estimates showed the restoration would cost more than $20,000, though it will be paid in full through insurance since the damage was done through no fault of the county.

Siegel said the supervisors plan to display the chief for a few weeks once he returns from Omaha before securing him to his outlook over the city.

1
Text Only
Wapello County
  • 0728 OTT ribs in eldon BBQ dinner with a hundred friends

    ELDON --- This year's Eldon Rib Cook-off was won by three BBQ chefs --- and about 150 hungry visitors. "I was down here last year, too," said Dwayne Yates from Floris, who was biting into his third smoked rib. "I never had a bad one yet." That's what

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0617 OTT Wapello Co Fair color photo -L -M Come one, come all to the Wapello County Fair

    ELDON — The Wapello County Fair is just around the corner, kicking off with entries being welcomed at Wapello Hall and the Iowa Agricultural Hall from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday. On Thursday, entries for competition will be received from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at

    June 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Siegel, Rubel face off in forum OTTUMWA — For Steve Siegel, a political campaign is nothing new. For Tom Rubel, being the candidate is a first. Now they want the same job. Siegel and Rubel are seeking the Democratic nomination for SD 41, the Iowa Senate district which includes Ottu

    May 29, 2014

  • 0530 OTT Oak tatters picture color Oak leaves left in tatters

    OTTUMWA — Trees throughout Iowa have been terrorized by the likes of Emerald Ash Borer and other dangers in the past months and now oak trees throughout Iowa are in a little bit of more trouble because of a disease called oak tatters. Thankfully, tho

    May 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • Help fight hunger OTTUMWA — The groups began with a question: How to better help Wapello County residents who don't have enough decent food. Next week, they'll decide if they've found any answers. The food security project, Growing Wapello Together, had small groups m

    May 28, 2014

  • Attempted murder trial set for July KEOSAUQUA — The Van Buren County man accused of attempted murder could head to trial in a remarkably short time. Dimitrious Royal has a trial date of July 15. If that date is when the trial actually begins, it would take place just more than 11 weeks

    May 28, 2014

  • Agency aces assessment OTTUMWA — A local agency had a lot riding on the outcome of an independent review. They nailed it. "The credential we just received was to show we are a quality [organization]," said Bryan Dunn, executive director of Sieda Community Action. "It's som

    May 27, 2014

  • County backs bike rides OTTUMWA — Bike rides in Wapello County just received a personal push of goodwill from Wapello County Board of Supervisors. Tuesday, supervisors signed a resolution of support for three area bike rides to be conducted in June. The rides include the H

    May 27, 2014

  • 0527 OTT EMS week color photo -L -M ORHC celebrates EMS Week OTTUMWA — During National EMS week, May 18-24, Ottumwa Regional Health Center (ORHC) celebrated its staff, the community EMS providers and the importance of being prepared in emergency situations through education. The ambulance service at ORHC, also

    May 26, 2014 2 Photos

  • Moving into the future OTTUMWA — Wapello County Supervisor Greg Kenning joked after the board approved upgrading the county’s servers Tuesday. “You can put away your quills.” Jokes asides, Wapello County will now have more opportunity to maximize its server resources. The

    May 20, 2014

Obituaries
Record
Facebook
AP National