The Eisenhower Project

MOUNTAIN COMMUNITY ROTARIANS UNITE TO PAY TRIBUTE TO
CLEAN WATER AND THE LATE PRESIDENT EISENHOWER

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Amidst the serene beauty of the majestic Rocky Mountains of Colorado lies the third most endangered river in the United States: the 40-mile-long Fraser River.  This river is the first tributary to the famous Colorado River and is one of the primary potable water sources for the folks who reside in the small communities there.  The Fraser River is also a perfect habitat for several distinct types of fish since it provides them with a clean water environment – a luxury found in too few localities around the globe.

Five of the six Pacific Salmon species spawn in the Fraser River and its tributaries.  This includes rainbow trout, ocean-going steelhead trout, and the official Colorado State Fish (and endangered species) cutthroat trout.  Sturgeon abound in the waters as well, and thanks to recent catch and release regulations, these prehistoric monsters are now being preserved for future generations. Yes, the Fraser River is a first-class angler's destination. It has attracted people from all over the world, most notably, the late President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

President Eisenhower was born in Denison, Texas and raised in Abilene, Kansas.  He graduated from West Point in 1915 and married Mamie Doud of Denver, Colorado in 1916.  He rose to the rank of Five Star General and was the Supreme Allied Commander during World War II. He became the Commander in Chief of NATO Forces in 1950.

General Eisenhower was so popular and well-respected that both the Democratic and Republican parties courted him to be their Presidential candidate. He accepted the Republican nomination and was elected President of the United States in 1952

President Eisenhower was also an avid sportsman.  His two favorite hobbies were golf and fly-fishing. The State of Colorado was perfect for both activities.  Given that fact, he made many trips to Denver and surrounded himself with a small group of friends referred to as “The Gang” that included rancher Aksel Neilsen.

 Due to the nearness of the Nielsen Ranch, the Fraser Valley in Colorado became one of President Eisenhower’s most loved getaways.  While at the ranch, the President enjoyed vacationing in a small cabin and cooking his specialties - trout and steaks broiled over the coals.  On several occasions, he remarked that he was most relaxed while fly-fishing the Fraser River or St. Louis Creek.   

The people of the small mountain community accepted and adored him, but were sure to give him his privacy while he was there. From time to time, other famous individuals joined the President on the stream as well, including Richard Nixon, General Lucius Clay, and James Hagerty.  During one notable trip to the Fraser Valley in 1954, President Eisenhower signed the bill that established the United States Air Force Academy.  Very few communities can lay claim to having been a favorite vacation home to the “Leader of the Free World”.  He is by far the Fraser River Valley’s most famous fly-fisherman!

Given this remote locale’s remarkable facts, the Rotarians of Grand County, Colorado have united to fund a project that will highlight the importance of clean water, not just in the Fraser River Valley but throughout the world.  Most of us are fortunate to have grown up with drinkable water readily available in our own homes, but there are still many communities in the world where potable water is scarce or even non-existent.

The proposed project will raise funds to construct a memorial at a prominent site alongside the Fraser River.  The tribute will consist of an eight-foot bronze monument in President Eisenhower’s likeness with commemorative bricks flowing up and around it in resemblance of the stream.  The finished monument will be located near the bank of the Fraser River in Fraser, Colorado where it will be accessible to the public for reverence and educational purposes.

Presently, the bronze statue is being created by Howard Neville, an accomplished sculptor who lives nearby in Grand Lake, Colorado.  Mr. Neville has done other life-size sculptures of famous Americans including John Wayne and Glenn Miller. 


His vision is to create a glimpse into the lesser-known life of President Eisenhower - a split second of action as the President nets a beautiful Colorado trout.  The image will resemble a photograph taken of the late President that can be found at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library and Museum in Abilene, Kansas (copy shown on right).

 
Sculptor Howard Neville
Mr. Neville will publicly create the bronze in the lobby of the Fraser branch of Grand Mountain Bank. Visitors, student classrooms, and other interested groups are welcome to observe his work.  The estimated completion date is March 2007. 
Thirty-six handsome quarter-scale miniatures of the eight-foot original will be created by the sculptor as well.  One will be given to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library in Abilene, and another one will be placed in the Eisenhower section of the Grand County Historical Museum in Fraser. 

The remaining commemorative miniatures may be purchased by interested parties for a $4,000 donation.  Approximately 70% of those proceeds will go towards actual creation and completion of the project.

Many other giving categories are available as well.  They are as follows:

Up to $99                   Thank you card plus “I Like Ike” button

$100 - $249               Engraved brick on river bank

$250 - $499               Engraved brick on river border

$500 - $999               Engraved brick (darker color creating the stream)

$1000 - $2400          Name on plaque that accompanies the sculpture

$2500 and up            Engraved boulder in stream

Additionally, donations can be designated as you wish:

 50% Monument and 50% Potable Water For The World

100% Monument

100% Potable Water For The World

We welcome your help in completing this project.  Donations of all sizes will be greatly appreciated. 

Please send to: 

WP-FV Rotary Club
PO Box 745,
Winter Park, Colorado, 80482. 

Checks should be written out to “Eisenhower Project”.

Other groups and individuals are encouraged to join us in our endeavors to promote this cause.  For more information, please email us at:  Info@WPFV-Rotary.org.

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