Rare Bronze Sculpture to Mark Historic Oregon Trail
The family of distinguished American sculptor Avard Fairbanks
has donated to the city of Boise a rare bronze casting of "Old
Oregon Trail". The 36-inch round medallion has been mounted into a
7-and-a-half-foot tall stone monument and installed at the Whitman
Trailhead in the Oregon Trail Historic Reserves Park off Highway 21
and E. Lake Forest Drive. Boise Mayor Brent Coles, the Boise Parks
& Recreation Department and members of the Fairbanks family
unveiled and dedicated the monument.
The sculpture, valued at $23,000, was cast from Avard Fairbank's
original model which he created in 1924. It depicts a pioneer
mother and child in a covered wagon with her husband driving oxen
on a rocky trail. It was inspired by Fairbanks' friendship with
Oregon Trail Pioneer Ezra Meeker, whose passion for recognition and
preservation of the Trail was legendary.
The Oregon Trail was the backbone of transportation in the early
American West, serving as a travel route for nearly 500,000
pioneers between 1841 and the 1880s. An estimated 20,000 people
perished along the route, which stretched from points along the
Missouri River into the Northwest Territories.
Avard Fairbanks, Ph.D, 1897-1987, was a sculptor, anatomist and
educator. In his career he created more than 100 public monuments
to great characters and events in history. His sculptures include
religious characters such as Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, and the
Angel Moroni; secular works such as garden statuaries and war
memorials; and prominent people like Abraham Lincoln, George
Washington and Florence Nightingale. He also created memorial
statues to western pioneers such as Marcus Whitman, located in
Walla Walla, WA, the Pioneer Family, in Bismarck, ND, and the
Tragedy at Winter Quarters in Omaha, NB. Fairbanks also designed
and sculpted the original Dodge Ram and Winged Mermaid hood
ornaments in the 1930s for Dodge and Plymouth automobiles.