Fraser said he created the statue to depict the suffering of Indians removed from their homelands and pushed toward the Pacific. He titled it simply: End of the Trail. According to reports at the time, it didn't cause much excitement at the exposition. Perhaps the subject was still too tender.
(Left: James Earle Fraser. 1876-1953.)
Then, the statue disappeared from general public view. Historians and officials had no idea what had happened to it. Even Fraser was at a loss.
Dean Krakel, managing director of the Cowboy museum, set out to locate it..finally getting a lead from a friend of the Fraser family.
It turns out the small city of Visalia, California had bought it when the exposition closed and used it to decorate a public park, where it languished from almost 50 years. Made of plaster on a wood and wire frame, it was painted repeatedly to preserve its surface.
Krakel bought it in 1968 and and his team went to get it. To put it on a truck, they had to cut the rider from the horse and bring it home in two pieces. But bring it home, they did and restoration began.
Today, End of the Trail is the first object you see when you enter the museum's grand foyer. The rider and horse stand exhausted but undefeated. If you know your history, you'll understand.
You can see it, along with a show about its loss and recovery as the museum marks the statue's centennial.
We stopped there today on the last leg of our journey home from a wonderful trip through parts of the west. We're glad we did.
Near the statue was this, from Marion Manville Pope:
"The trail is lost, the path is hid and winds that blew from out the ages sweep me on to that chill borderline where Time's spent sands engulf lost peoples and lost trails."
Visit the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma..you're invited.