In a heartening display of community collaboration, the beloved metal eagle statue in the veterans section of the Ottumwa Park campground has been restored to its former glory, just in time for Memorial Day.
Damaged by a thunderstorm in August, the iconic symbol of American freedom underwent a meticulous restoration process spanning over eight months.
The imposing eagle statue, standing approximately three feet tall with a wingspan of about five feet, suffered significant damage when a fierce thunderstorm tore through the city.
The force of the storm shattered the eagle into three pieces—the torso, feet, and one wing separated.
City parks officials and Winger Mechanical, a local company, played crucial roles in the painstaking restoration effort.
Gene Rathje, the city parks and recreation director, expressed the importance of the eagle’s timely restoration, saying, “It’s the symbol of American freedom. It’s going to fly again.”
The statue’s strategic position next to the flagpole within the campground’s veterans section makes it a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by those who served their country.
The restoration process proved challenging, requiring the dedication of numerous parks employees.
Hank Harper, Don Houk, Steve Erwin, and Todd Nickel were all instrumental in restoring the eagle, working closely with Winger Mechanical, which graciously provided welding work free of charge.
Rathje detailed the collaborative efforts, explaining, “Our guys did most of the work right there in the park maintenance shop. As far as the welding, Winger helped us with that because some of the parts of the eagle are pot metal, which is difficult to weld. The feet and the wings are difficult to reattach, especially when they’re heavy.”
A strategically placed metal brace, invisible when the statue is mounted on its perch, also aided in the restoration.
Throughout the winter, park employees dedicated at least 50 man hours to the eagle’s restoration.
The complex task of reassembling the eagle was not the only challenge, however; the statue’s weight, estimated at around 150 pounds, necessitated the use of a boom truck typically reserved for Christmas decorations. The restoration process also included attention to the statue’s finer details. Rathje noted, “Our guys did an excellent job restoring it. They even painted the fish that the eagle has in its claws.”
The end result is a meticulously restored eagle that closely resembles its original appearance.
This successful restoration carries significant implications for private campground owners and operators in the surrounding area.
As the eagle stands as a symbol of pride and unity, its revival is sure to attract visitors and boost the local tourism industry, benefiting campgrounds and local businesses alike.
The story of the metal eagle’s restoration is a testament to the strength and perseverance of the Ottumwa community, as they come together to preserve a cherished symbol for future generations.