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Caswell sculpture depicts highway visionaries

"Devoted Passion" honors builders of highway

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Devoted Passion, Troutdale sculptor Rip Caswells latest creation, is unveiled Tuesday at a ceremony held to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Historic Columbia River Highway.The first monument to the key planners of the Historic Columbia River Highway was unveiled in Troutdale on Tuesday, June 7 — 100 years ago to the day since the roadway’s dedication ceremony in 1916.

The statue, designed by renowned local sculptor Rip Caswell, shows financier Sam Hill standing alongside Samuel Lancaster, the visionary engineer who designed the road.

Its title is “Devoted Passion,” which Caswell considered a fitting tribute for two men who dedicated their lives to a road that contours to the landscape, rather than flattening it.

“Typically the credit goes to the guys out front, like Sam Hill and Lancaster,” Caswell said at the 3 p.m. event. “But there were thousands of workers who helped build the highway. So this is really a thank you to all guys at (Firebird Bronze) Foundry.”OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Actors portraying Samuel Lancaster (front) and Sam Hill pose in front of Devoted Passion, Rip Caswells newest sculpture commemorating these Oregon pioneers and the Historic Columbia River Highway.

The 2,000-pound statue, which took about a year to complete, is cast in bronze, with shades of sepia, brown and even a hint of gold, according to the artist. Viewed from the front, the statue shows Lancaster raising his arm toward the bluffs, as if sketching the proposed route of the highway. A slide ruler sticks out of his jacket pocket, and his foot rests on an authentic surveyor’s case. Hill stands slightly behind the engineer, perhaps considering how to pay for everything.

The statue was installed earlier this week at the newly-christened Visionary Park, located at the corner of Jackson Park Road and Historic Columbia River Highway.

Originally, Caswell agreed to donate his time and the bronze if the city provided land and a base for the statue.

“But then I realized I’d have to mortgage my house,” Caswell explained. Luckily, the philanthropic Weyhrich family agreed to defray the cost of metal casting.

When completed, the park will have benches, lighting and natural stonework made from Columbia River Gorge-derived basalt. Multnomah County donated the land to the city of Troutdale.

Reached by phone, Caswell said he was more than satisfied with the finished product.

“I’ve done pieces all over the U.S., but this is my hometown, so I have to look at it for a long time,” Caswell said with a laugh. “This one was significant to me personally. I was really inspired by these men.”

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Troutdale Mayor Doug Daoust speaks Tuesday at the unveiling of Devoted Passion, sculptor Rip Caswells newest piece of art.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Sculptor Rip Caswell chats with the crowd Tuesday.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Devoted Passion is a blend of old and new sculpting techniques; both old fashion bronze work, as well as high tech 3-D printing such as that used to create the Ford in this photo, was used to create the piece.