Before I start,
I would like to thank Stephanie at
for picking my sitting room reveal
as one of her features last week
for her Roses of Inspirations linky party.
She is such a kind and loving woman
and it is my honor
to consider her a friend
and to be included in her wonderful party.
The Nevada County Fairgrounds
is a beautiful, scenic place.
It is even seen by some
as the most beautiful fairgrounds
in Northern California.
It certainly has its share of
serene and calming places,
nestled as it is
under tall pines...
...and along side a large pond
where an abundance
of wild life reside.
Now the gates are closed
and there is an unusual stillness over all,
but it isn't hard for the imagination
to recall the sights and sounds
of laughter and good times,
eating corn dogs and roasted chestnuts
by an open fire,
the paths lined with California Gold,
and the carnival rides filled
with the young
and the young at heart.
At the entrance to the fairgrounds,
standing tall over all,
through the clamor and the quiet,
is one of the most recognizable icons
of Nevada County,
the draft horse monument,
known as the
Photo courtesy of The Union
From left: Contractors Jerry F. Orlandi and Robert A. Hildebrand, along with Todd Andrews, sculptor, stand in front of the "Gentle Giant" monument at the Nevada Country Fairgrounds. The three men know the location of a secret time capsule in the statue's base, which was dedicated on July 21, 1996.
We found out this morning
from an article in our local newspaper,
that the Gentle Giant
has a long kept secret.
Robert Hildebrand, pictured above,
donated his labor to build the base
of the monument in 1991.
At that time,
he installed a secret time capsule,
inside the base,
to hold a few personal items
for his children to discover years later
and news articles
that detailed the events
swirling around the project's construction.
At the time of construction
there was a lot of negativity
concerning the project.
People thought it was too much money
and that the money could be more wisely spent,
along with it taking too long
The structure was finally put in place
five years after the base concrete
and when the $250,000 needed
to pay for the impressive steed
The main fund raising tools used
to complete the venture
was to charge companies and individuals
to put their names
on one of the twenty or more plaques
on the base.
The price was $50 per line
and each plaque had 200 lines.
Some companies paid for a whole plaque
at the cost of
Photo courtesy of The Union
In this file photo, the "Gentle Giant" monument is lifted onto its base.
When the base was completed
there was a 2X8 foot time capsule installed.
It was a huge hole and
Hildebrand asked that a steel tank be made
to fit the space
so the contents could be protected from deterioration.
He also asked for
a small amount of space
to add his own time capsule.
Both requests were never addressed
so the huge hole was covered with rocks
and no one involved in the project
remembers ever putting anything
into the time capsule.
One person had a video tape to add
but it was lost
during the construction.
Hildebrand went ahead
and added his own time capsule anyway
and since he is now leaving the area
and moving to Arizona,
he says he will disclose the location
of his capsule
if a decision can be made
to put something in the main time capsule.
after 25 years,
it is time.
designed and cast
the massive bronze structure
that sits on top of the base.
He tells a tale
about what is under
of the horse.
Andrews placed a few gargoyle-type faces
around on the horse.
One, in particular,
was placed under the tail,
sitting on the horse's rear end.
He said it was just
a whimsical gesture,
a face blowing a kiss,
When the statue was first put in place,
a group of Boy Scouts
was brought in to polish it.
Andrews, foolishly, told them
about the face on the horse's rear
and the scouts
started teasing each other,
saying that their faces
"looked like a horse's butt."
One of the boys teased
was of Maidu Indian descent.
When he told his parents,
they became enraged
and the sheriff's office told the fair board
that they had the image
of a Native American
on the horse's butt
and to expect a protest
from that community.
A protest did ensue at the unveiling
but, by that time, the situation was resolved.
An official of the Bureau of Indian Affairs
came to inspect the piece
and said it obviously wasn't a depiction
of a Native American,
but Andrews covered the face
over with wax
at that time.
The wax has since been scraped off
and it now
ugly head again.
I personally looked all over the horse
as best I could,
as it is very high up off the ground,
and this is my opinion only,
that this is the face in question.
If you stand back from the photo
and look closely
you might see the face
in the above photo
in the left, bottom corner.
It appears in the higher photo
in the lower right hand corner.
I was unable to spot any other gargoyles.
It may have had its controversies
but, in reality,
is a beautiful sight to behold
and a symbol that stands
for the strength and honor
of the people and the animals
that forged ahead
and helped build
this beautiful country.
The Gentle Giant surrounded by springtime
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