The Mingo Indian statue that has stood at the top of Wheeling Hill since the early 1900s is receiving a makeover that will help restore it to its original bronze color and luster.
The statue has darkened in color over the past three decades. Now, thanks to the Kiwanis Club of Wheeling, it is being cleaned and polished by contractor Everett Carmichael of Glen Dale.
The statue - one of Wheeling's most famous landmarks - was donated to the Friendly City in 1928 by the Kiwanis Club. A plaque on the front of the statue states: "The Mingo, original inhabitant of this valley, extends greetings and peace to all wayfarers. Presented to the city of Wheeling by the Kiwanis Club and Geo. W. Lutz, 1928."
Photo by Scott McCloskey
Local contractor Everett Carmichael of Glen Dale cleans and polishes the Mingo Indian statue at the top of Wheeling Hill.
The statue was last cleaned and restored after it was stolen and damaged in the early1980s and later returned to the Wheeling Hill site, according to published reports.
Carmichael said he is using a mild combination of lemon juice, cornmeal and salt to clean the statue. He said he expects it will take several weeks and a lot of "elbow grease" to complete the task.
Carmichael also said he has received some unusual glances from passing motorists and pedestrians while working on the statue. However, one motorist simply gave Carmichael the thumbs-up sign while stopped at the traffic signal next to the statue.
"Everybody wants to know who is doing it," said Carmichael. "I just say the local Kiwanis Club."
The cost for the entire project, which is estimated to be between $8,000 and $10,000, was raised by donations through the Kiwanis Club of Wheeling, according to Project Chairman Mike Duplaga Jr. He said the club is making plans to help clean up the surrounding area as well - including possible restoration work on the nearby McColloch's Leap landmark.
Duplaga said the repair cost for the Mingo Indian will also include repairs to the landmark's stonework and lighting system. He said club members are making plans for a ribbon-cutting ceremony later this summer once the restoration work is complete.
Other Kiwanis committee members include Jim West and Tim Reed. West said Kiwanis members just felt it was time to make the necessary repairs to the notable landmark.
"It was in bad condition. It was turning different colors ... and it needed repaired and restored," said West.