Restoring Lady Liberty's Luster

Joan Barron

Copyright, April 7, 2008

Troop 101 Home Page
CHEYENNE - A new 300-pound bronze "Little Sister of Liberty" statue will be dedicated as the centerpiece of the new Liberty and Law Square in Chyenne's Lions Park this summer.

The placement will be the culmination of a six-year Eagle Scout project by Leland Duck of Cheyenne that helped launch a nationwide effort to locate 200 Statue of Liberty replicas. They had been dedicated by Boy Scout troops nationwide between 1949 and 1952, the Cold War era.

Duck's original goal was to restore the original copper replica of the Statue of Liberty that was dedicated in Cheyenne on May 27, 1950. But restoration of the old statue, he said, would have cost more than to recast a new one in bronze that would withstand the elements better.

The original Wyoming statue was placed on the grounds of the Capitol Building, where it stood for years. During the Cheyenne dedication in 1950, nearly 1,000 Boy Scouts marched from the downtown to the State Capitol to hear a speech by Gov. Arthur Crane, according to an article in the October 2007 issues of Scouting magazine.

Time, weather and vandals took their toll on the statue, however. The spokes in the crown were broken off, among other things, said Duck, who now lives in California, in a telephone interview.

State officials wanted to get rid of the statue, but a Wyoming Supreme Court justice stepped in to save it. Neither Leland nor his father, Ron Duck, could remember the judge's name.

The statue was moved to the Supreme Court grounds.

The ownership issue delayed the project, particularly state conservation requirements, Leland Duck said.

"We found a way to change the ownership back to the city," he said.

Once determining it would be cheaper to cast a new statue than restore the old one, he raised $2,500 for the project, and the city paid the rest of the cost.

Because it was a Boy Scout project, he was able negotiate a deal with the foundry so the total cost was only $8,500.

"It looks really good," he said of the new bronze statue.

It now stands inside the entrance to the Cheyenne municipal building until the move to Lions Park.

Duck, who will be 21 years old this month, started the project when he was 15 or 16 years old.

But the idea came several years earlier when his Boy Scout Troop 101 launched the national drive to locate the remaining original copper statues after researching the replica in Cheyenne.

"They were interested in historical things like that, and they did some research and found they were all over the country," Leland Duck said. "It was like a treasure hunt."

The scouts had a list of states and cities where the statues were placed, but no specific locations.

When he and his family went on a trip to his father's hometown in Missouri, they looked for statues both ways.

Leland's father, Ron Duck of Cheyenne, said the family found 17 of the statues on that trip.

Most of the statues were found along Interstate 80 and Interstate 70, and some were in towns that are nearly extinct, he said.

"We found them made out of wood. We found them made out of tin, but he original Boy Scout statues were made out of copper," he added.

The only other statue in Wyoming, he said, is in Torrington.

He said his son, who now works part time in a hot rod shop in Orange County, Calif., put thousands of hours into his Eagle Scout project.

The pedestal for the statue will contain 300 stones from the Riner viaduct, contributed by John Mewes, Duck said.

The Ten Commandments monument, which now stands alone in Lions Park, will also be moved to the square.

The original copper 1950 statue, meanwhile, is in a garage owned by Pat Madigan, an adult Boy Scout leader.