Hiawatha renewal continues


August 24, 2019

Tom LaVenture/Daily Globe

Eric McGinnis and Max Muraski, of FAST Corporation, spray paint the headdress feathers at the top of a 50-foot fiberglass replica of Hiawatha as part of a restoration. The moon is still visible in the mid Friday morning sunshine.



Ironwood - A team of fiberglass specialists said there were surprises but that work remains on schedule to complete the restoration work on the 50-foot Hiawatha statue this week.

"We found a hole under the arm where pigeons were getting inside and we will seal that up," said Don Harmon, of FAST Corporation, who is conducting the repair work this week with two other workers from the Sparta, Wisconsin company.

The power washing and loose paint removal work started Wednesday and the work to locate and repair stress cracks followed. A part of Hiawatha's peace pipe was came off and will be reattached, Harmon said. There were several parts and materials sent up from the company to make on the spot repairs, he said.

The painting started Friday with co-workers Eric McGinnis and Max Muraski ascending to the top of the 50-foot Hiawatha in a boom truck to start spray painting the white feathers on the headdress. Down below Harmon continued sanding away rough spots on the base.

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The cooler weather on Thursday and Friday made it easier to work and the sunshine still helped activate the paint very quickly, Harmon said. The work is expected to be completed on schedule sometime Saturday, he said.

A clear coat covering will be sprayed over the paint to conclude the work, he said. That will help protect the paint to help it last longer and prevent loss of color and cracking.

The statue was erected at the park along Burma Road in 1964 by the Ironwood Area Chamber of Commerce. The goal was for the statue to honor Native Americans, and to serve as an economic driver for tourism.

The statue cost around $10,000 in 1964, and the repair work cost more than $26,000 in 2019. The fundraising started over three years ago with a chamber committee of Peter Sturgul, John Rudberg and Michael Meyer, director, with organizational and personal donations reaching the goal recently with a $3,000 donation from the couple who won the 50-50 raffle in Bessemer.

A long term maintenance fund is being developed to perform periodic maintenance to help the statue continue to serve as an area road attraction and bring more visitors off the interstate into Ironwood.

Tom LaVenture/Daily Globe

Don Harmon, the crew chief from FAST Corporation, uses a sander to clear dirt and loose paint from the 50-foot fiberglass replica of the Hiawatha Friday in Ironwood.


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