IRON MIKE RELOCATION PROJECT 2019-2021
Project Manager: Mike Bowers
The Illinois Humane Society provided water fountains to offer fresh drinking water to the horses pulling carriages in Chicago. While this started out as the goal, the idea expanded to include fresh water for other animals and children during a time when sickness and disease was due to poor quality drinking water. The Women’s Christian Temperance Union also felt that access to fresh water would reduce alcohol consumption. Originally there were cups chained to the anchors near the top of the barrel of the fountain. It was discovered that these shared cups were responsible for spreading sickness and disease as well and “ban the cups” campaigns spread throughout the country. This information was borrowed from “Chicago’s Fabulous Fountains” by Greg Borzo. I highly recommend this book full of fun facts and history about water fountains.
The Illinois Humane Society provided the Iron Mike water fountain to the City of Oregon in June of 1901 (120 years ago).
In 2010 the top decorative cap was stolen. When I first received the report of someone stealing the top from Iron Mike, I contacted the City Council for permission to find a replacement. Without exception this was perceived to be a top priority. The process of replacing the top to Iron Mike was a very involved process and required the cooperation of many people. I would like to take this time to thank those who helped complete this task. Mayor Tom Stone and Commissioners Jim Lauer, Bob Rees, Ken Williams and Tom Miller for their support and encouragement.
Earleen Hinton first brought the missing top to my attention and was instrumental throughout the process of getting a replacement top made with her photographs, investigative skills and interest in our local history.
Jeff Adams of Inbronze Studio for advice and direction.
The Flagg Township Museum Board for the loan of their fountain top to use as a mold for our replacement and special thanks to Director Khristin Landry for working with me and for her patience and understanding throughout this process.
The Neenah Foundry Co. for casting the duplicate lid with the help of Steve Bazan from the Rockford Yard making the arrangements and taking care of the logistics for delivery to and from the foundry, Steve Akkala, Manager of Technical Support and Product Development for processing and oversight for making our duplicate tops at the foundry.
F.N. Smith for design and machining of the replacement fastener which holds the top in place and special thanks to Ed Smith for his support of this endeavor. This was a long and tedious process and everyone I contacted about this project was eager to help and went the extra mile to ensure it was completed. The selflessness exhibited by these people is quite refreshing and we are blessed to have them as part of our community.
The relocation of Iron Mike was made possible due to the generosity of the following volunteers and contractors:
Dale Beesing – Beesing Welding, boom truck and laborers for removing Iron Mike for refurbishing and replacing Iron Mike at the new location. Including anchoring Iron Mike and the memorial benches.
Jerry Martin – Martin & Company, site prep, excavation and placement of the vault and vault lid, removal of old fountain base and old sidewalk, excavation for new water and sewer lines, removal of old fire hydrant and setting of the new fire hydrant all necessary backfill. Advice on many aspects of the project along with 2 or 3 laborers at different stages of the project.
Marty Bush – Ehmen Industries, removal of old water and sewer utilities, placement of new water and sewer lines including the new curb stop. Hooking up the new services to Iron Mike.
Don Etnyre – E.D. Etnyre and Company, removal of the multiple layers of paint and refinishing of Iron Mike.
Brent Johnson for prepping and installation the forms for the new sidewalk placement and finishing of the new concrete including the brickstamp behind the curb.
Jason Benesh – Benesh and Sons, providing 1 laborer and 1 finisher for placement and finishing of the new concrete sidewalk.
Randy Travis – Travis Landscaping, site prep and installation of the brick pavers including base lime, matting and polymetric sand for the joints during a week of 100 degree heat index weather.
FN Smith Company, machining the new bubbler for Iron Mike.
Oregon Water Dept. – provided the new drain back curb stop and Fire Hydrant and was always available when I needed them.
Oregon Street Dept.– I could always count on their support and help with many aspects of this project. They assisted with so many tasks that made this project possible. Without their help this project would have been substantially more challenging.
Oregon Park District Landscape design and installation.
Otto Dick – Ogle County Historical Society for research into the history of Iron Mike.
Corey Buck – Willett-Hofmann for the design and layout of this project.
Many thanks to Oregon City Council and Ogle County Board for their inter-governmental cooperation to make this a reality.