Wyoming’s Abe Lincoln Sculpture Will be Restored
The bust of Abraham Lincoln that overlooks Interstate 80 is overdue for a complete restoration.
But now, that will be rectified.
On Sept. 9 the iconic cast bronze sculpture that resides on the I-80 Summit east of Laramie will be loaded on a truck and hauled off to the Eagle Bronze Foundry in Lander for a cleaning and restoration.
The 30-foot granite pedestal from which Abe solemnly gazes will stay behind.
Both sculpture and pedestal were created by the now deceased Centennial artist, Robert Russin,in the late 1950's.
There's tough weather year round at its perch where Interstate 80 climbs to its highest peak and the bronze needs to be cleaned of excessive patina buildup that currently renders places on the sculpture almost black.
The summarized scope of the work as provided by the foundry is as follows:
The sculpture will be unbolted and lowered via crane to a waiting trailer.
It will be transported to the foundry where the sculpture will be sandblasted using a glass bead media to remove the surface oxides and contaminants, thus exposing the original cast bronze surface.
The exposed surface will then be sealed with two coats of lacquer seal for UV projection.
After these coats have cured, two additional coats of hardener will be applied to enhance the protective seal.This will be very resistant to environmental factors such as wind, temperature swings, and precipitation.
Once seal coats have cured, the sculpture will be readied for return transport and Eagle Bronze will inspect the internal structure for further signs of galvanic corrosion.
The sculpture will then be transported back to the Summit Rest Area site and re-installed on its pedestal via crane and man lifts.
The entire process to give Abe new golden years should take about two weeks.
The sculpture and 30-foot granite pedestal were formed and cast in Mexico City over 11 months in 1958 and 1959 then transported to Wyoming via railroad.
Russin described the original bronze color on the bust as a "bright medium gold, top to bottom."
This is the second time the 12-and a half-foot tall, three-and a half-ton bust of The Great Emancipator will be taken down.The first cleaning and resealing was in 1992.
At seven-thousand pounds, the sculpture is one of the the largest cast bronze heads in the USA.
At his request, Russin's ashes are interned at the site of the monument.
The hollow pedestal at the base of the sculpture contains a ladder and lightning rod!
The restoration cost to remove the sculpture from its pedestal at the Summit Rest Area east of Laramie,transport it to Lander, restore the sculpture surface and return it back on its pedestal is $29,480. It is paid for with State Funds.