Groundbreaking for The American project - a mammoth bronze sculpture that would serve as a stirring gateway to Tulsa - will take place later this year if everything goes according to plan, organizers said Wednesday.
Enough money has been raised through private donations and investments for construction of the monument to begin, said Ron Peters of Relations Inc., an Oklahoma City public relations firm.
The mold and bronze-panel production team has completed its pre- planning and is ready to start, Peters said. If things go as anticipated, the groundbreaking will occur during the last half of 2006.
Peters added that the artist, Shan Gray, and all of the American team are thrilled at the possibility of breaking ground this year.
Taking the reins for the $40 million project is Lt. Col. Charles Garrison, a retired career Army officer who returned from an assignment as a civilian contractor training Afghanistan Army officers. Garrison has been a lifelong friend of Gray, who is part Osage Indian and a lifelong Oklahoman.
Planning for the design and engineering for the 110-acre project has been ongoing since November 2003.
The statue - made of cast bronze with a special steel frame - is slated to be built on Holmes Peak, seven miles northwest of downtown Tulsa, and the highest point in five counties. The property is owned by Persimmon Ridge LLC, which is donating land for the statue.
The American will be located a short distance away from the 300- acre Oklahoma Centennial Botanical Garden being developed in celebration of Oklahoma's centennial in 2007.
Standing on a four-story base, The American is expected to be the tallest free-standing bronze monument in the world. The 17-story monument will be taller than the Statue of Liberty, its wingspan of 102 feet will be greater than a Boeing 717, and 350,000 pounds of bronze will be used.
The monument itself depicts a young Native American warrior with a bald eagle landing on his arm. The warrior's left arm is catching a blanket fallen from his shoulder, with the wind blowing the warrior's hair across his face.
Gray has said the monument symbolizes the courage and resolve of the American people, and national unity.
Community leaders hope The American rising above Tulsa will make a bold, dramatic statement like the Statue of Liberty in New York, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco or the St. …