End of the Trail

Madison St. (Shaler Park), Waupun, Wisconsin

One of the most famous sculptures in America, located in Waupun

Photo 

Photo taken by J.R. Manning in June 2013

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Description 

One of the most famous statues in America is James Earle Fraser's End of the Trail. Fraser (1876-1953) was a native of South Dakota, and was keenly aware of the push of Native Americans across the continent. He began to study sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago when he was 13 years old, and worked at the 1893 Columbian Exposition. In 1894, at the age of 17, he created a small, bronze version of the sculpture that opened doors for him over the years.

Fraser created a large plaster version of the sculpture for the Pan Pacific Exposition in San Francisco in 1914, where Clarence Shaler first saw the work. In 1928, Clarence Shaler commissioned Fraser to have the plaster statue cast in bronze for the first time. He and Fraser selected the location in Waupun, and it was unveiled on June 23, 1929.

The plaster version of the sculpture, cast for the 1914 exposition, went on display in Visalia, California in 1919. The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City acquired the sculpture in 1968, had it restored and cast in bronze. The bronze sculpture replaced the sculpture in Visalia.

Fraser did not copyright his sculpture and other than Shaler's commission, never made a dime from the myriad of copies.

Over the years, the sculpture has suffered from exposure and vandals. It has undergone a restoration and the stunning detail of Fraser's work can be appreciated again.

National Register information 

Status
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on August 29, 1980
Reference number
80000136
Area of significance
Art
Level of significance
State
Evaluation criteria
A - Event
Property type
Object
Historic function
Work of art (sculpture, carving, rock art)
Current function
Work of art (sculpture, carving, rock art)
Period of significance
1925-1949
Significant year
1929

Update Log 

  • June 14, 2013: Updated by J.R. Manning: Updated Status and Added Description

Sources