Driving With Clouds: Texas Capitol

October 6, 2015: Twenty-nine years after she was lowered into place, this Goddess of Liberty replica still watches over Austin from her perch atop the Texas Capitol dome.

October 6, 2015: Twenty-nine years after she was lowered into place by military helicopter, this Goddess of Liberty statue replica still watches over Austin from her perch atop the Texas Capitol dome.

The Goddess of Liberty statue replica atop the Texas Capitol dome in Austin was gently lowered into place on June 14, 1986, by a Mississippi National Guard helicopter. Two weeks earlier, as described by the Austin American-Statesman, Texas Army National Guard crews tried for two days to secure the statue with the use of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter.

But as the Statesman and other newspapers reported, including the New York Times, the Texas Army National Guard’s efforts were thwarted by gusting winds and the helicopter pilot’s inability to see below the aircraft in attempts to place the statue over a steel pole attached to the top of the dome. As detailed by the New York Times, the Mississippi National Guard came to the rescue with a Sikorsky CH54 Skycrane helicopter that offered better visibility for the pilot and a suspended line that could be raised or lowered, as opposed to a fixed line.

The replica replaced the original Goddess of Liberty statue, which was erected in 1888 and was showing damage and deterioration due to exposure to heat, rain, and wind. Under the oversight of The State Preservation Board, the original statue was removed by helicopter from the Texas Capitol dome in November 1985.

According to historical records from the Office of the Architect of the Capitol, the deterioration of the Goddess of Liberty was first noticed in 1983 when workers painting the statue’s pedestal noticed extensive cracks along the backs of her arms, hand, and sword.

The original and refurbished Goddess of Liberty is on display at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin (www.thestoryoftexas.com). Originally cast of galvanized iron and zinc and coated with paint and sand to simulate stone, she stands almost 16 feet tall and weighs about 2,000 pounds.

The Goddess of Liberty replica is corrosion-resistant and made of an aluminum alloy. Like the original, she holds a sword and a gilded star.

October 8, 2015: The Goddess of Liberty replica atop the Texas Capitol holds her gilded star high against a bank of soft clouds.

October 8, 2015: The Goddess of Liberty statue replica atop the Texas Capitol dome holds her gilded star against a blue-gray overcast sky.

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