Rare Bronze Sculpture to Mark Historic Oregon Trail Reserves
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 and 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.