Written by John Plestina
Mayor Chris Dschaak told the Wolf Point City Council Monday, June 15, that he will refer a request by the artist who created the bronze monument of a horse and rider in the triangle in downtown Wolf Point for city support to protect the sculpture to the council’s Parks, Recreation, Cemetery and Tree Committee.
Floyd Tennyson “Tenny” DeWitt of Bozeman recently told The Herald-News he is hoping more will be done to protect and promote his sculpture of a rider who has taken off his hat off as a reverent gesture to all who shaped the community Wolf Point became.
The bronze cast monument has stood 39 years near the point of the triangle between Anaconda and Main streets near the Wolf Point Café.
DeWitt, who was born and raised in Wolf Point and was a Wolf Point police officer in his youth, is now 81. He said in May that he is concerned that the statue is neither high enough off the ground for proper visibility, nor behind a low barrier to protect it from being struck by vehicles. He said the red brick foundation neither enhances nor provides adequate protection.
DeWitt also said there should not be two plaques and one has the title of the sculpture incorrect.
“He does not believe that in its current location on the pedestal that it is safe,” Dschaak told the council.
“He [DeWitt] is saying it would be at no cost to us,” he said.
City clerk/treasurer Marlene Mahlum said she approached the council eight years ago about removing railroad ties that surrounded the sculpture. Mahlum obtained a quote for the brick covering and the city paid for it.
She said at the time she did not know that the artist or the people that contributed to funding it during the 1970s were still alive. She had a plaque made.
“I put the plaque on the statue. The statue had been there since 1976 and people were coming out of the woodwork,” Mahlum said.
She said DeWitt contacted her and that he was not pleased with an article she wrote that was on the city’s website. Mahlum said DeWitt asked for a different plaque, which she agreed to but she would not remove the original plaque.
DeWitt told The Herald-News the correct title is Homage to the Pioneer, not Homage.
“I thought I was doing a good deed,” Mahlum said.
The city has the monument insured, but questions were raised about whether the amount of coverage is adequate for its current value.
“I would be more concerned about having liability insurance on it,” councilman Rollie Paulson said.
DeWitt said his inspiration to create the sculpture came in 1973, when Dr. Robert Dana Knapp, “Bess” and Bob Hovey and several others asked him to create something for Wolf Point. The Wolf Point Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture was involved with the project that was funded by private contributions. Three years later, the monument was placed at its current site.