FAIRPORT, Iowa — Huckleberry Finn got into a lot of adventures in his story. But he never lost his head. Unfortunately, the same can't be said about an area statue of Mark Twain's famous character.
This past weekend, a statue of Huck Finn at the Fairport Fish Hatchery toppled from its tree trunk and fell to the ground. Most of the statue remained intact, however Huck's head wasn't so lucky.
Hatchery technician Melanie Harkness said at first she saw something on the ground, but didn't realize it was the statue's head.
"When I got closer, I thought, 'Oh, the statue isn't there,'" Harkness said.
Harkness said she noticed recently that the base of the statue, which was carved from what was left of a tree that had been topped off, was beginning to rot and doesn't believe any foul play was involved.
If the head hadn't shattered, she said they might have been able to reattach it. Now, they'll probably just have to dispose of it, likely by burning it.
"When Ken [Hyman] started cutting it in the first place, he got lucky with the rotten spots and was able to carve around them," Harkness said.
Hyman, who passed away this past August, carved the Huckleberry Finn statue about seven or eight years ago. Harkness said Hyman cut air holes in the tree trunk to circulate the air through the wood sculptures, helping them last longer.
It was the second statue he carved for the fish hatchery. The other, a fellow fisherman, stands on the other side of the hatchery with his hook in the third sculpture, a fish.
Hyman was a retired Wildcat Den State Park ranger when he volunteered to carve the first statue on the hatchery grounds. He completed three statues, with a chainsaw, and left his last, an eagle holding a fish, unfinished.
"We’re debating on what we should do with the eagle statue," Harkness said, adding they'll either try to find someone who can finish it or leave it the way it is "in memory of Ken. We haven’t decided yet. We know we’re not cutting it down."