The artwork resembling a fence with cut-out images of warrior Black Hawk and various kinds of wildlife was installed 20 years ago by River Action Inc., Davenport, a nonprofit environmental group, to promote the river.
When new, it was accompanied by signs explaining the various images, but in time the signs faded to the point that they were no longer legible. They were just white panels.
Passing by the site, Norm Moline, a professor emeritus at Augustana College, Rock Island, and a member of the River Action board of directors decided something needed to be done.
"This was a great sign initially, but it got to the point it was embarrassing," he said.
On Tuesday, he and others unveiled new signs next to the sculpture that in addition to being legible, tell a story of their location. There are, as Kathy Wine, executive director of River Action said, "locally important features in all directions."
Moline said that because the location was significant in so many ways, early discussions about what the new signs should say determined "we have to tell that story."
As a result, panels explain that this area was home to Native Americans as well as the site of an early U.S. military fort that led the way to European settlement. It is also the location of Lock & Dam 15, with the largest roller dam in the world, and of a unique swing-span bridge, designed by Ralph Modjeski, a noted bridge designer.
Also featured are animals of the area, including eagles who have a panel all their own.
Beth Darnell, of DMW Design, the Davenport company that made the signs, said she hoped people would stop by and learn "a thing or two that they didn't know when they came here."
Research help for the text came from Black Hawk State Historic Site, various departments on the Arsenal and biologists.
In the future, River Action expects to create another sign dedicated to Fort Armstrong, the military fort that was established in 1816, and position it next to replica block house, Moline said.
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