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‘End of the Trail’ reaches century mark

‘End of the Trail’ reaches century mark

Grove Park since it was delivered on Sept. 10, 1919

@TheSunGazette

VISALIA – One of Tulare County’s most iconic pieces of art celebrated its 100th anniversary last month.

On Sept. 29, the Tulare County Museum celebrated the centennial of the End of the Trail statue in Mooney Grove Park. The 17-foot tall, larger than life statue was originally featured in the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco in 1915, where it won the gold medal for sculpture. After the Exposition ended, negotiations were made to bring the state to Mooney Grove Park, with it finally arriving on Sept. 10, 1919.

The statue stood in Mooney Grove Park for nearly 50 years, when talks of relocating it began as it was deteriorating in the elements outside. In 1968 it was decided that the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma would house the original while a bronze replica would be made to take its place in the park.

The bronze replica finally arrived and was re-dedicated in the park in December of 1971. This is the statue that visitors enjoy today. The original End of the Trail statue has been fully restored and still stands in the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum today.

This statue is considered James Earle Fraser’s most important piece. It depicts a weary Native American man hanging limp as his weary horse comes to the edge of the Pacific Ocean. Frasier used the image as a commentary on Euro-American settlements driving people from their native lands. Frasier created dozens of statues that are prominently displayed throughout the country, for instance, the figure of Alexander Hamilton in front of the U.S. Treasury in Washington D.C., the equestrian statue of Theodore Roosevelt outside the Museum of Natural History in New York, and General George Patton at West Point. He also sculpted the figures of “Law” and “Justice” before the Supreme Court building and the brace of bronze winged horses at the plaza of the Arlington Memorial Bridge in the Nation’s capital.

The celebration was held at the base of the End of the Trail statue. Following remarks from the Tulare County Historical Society, there was a reading of a congratulatory letter from the Oklahoma Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, and a Native American blessing of the statue by Tule River Tribe member Leland Castro. Following the ceremony, guests were invited to walk to the museum to view an exhibit and enjoy refreshments. The statue remains at Mooney Grove Park, 27000 S. Mooney Blvd. Visalia. Entrance fee is $6 per vehicle at the front gate and $3 for seniors.

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