Mayor Brent Ives led the ceremony at the Downtown Park Plaza next to the roundabout.
Ives called the landmark a perpetual statement about Tracy’s past and future.
“The farmer that faces the east, a railroad conductor that faces the west. These are the iconic images of the city’s history, but also representing our future,” the mayor said. “It pays respect to those that built the community and is specifically placed at the historic core of our city.”
The 16-foot-tall bronze statue, created by Rowland Cheney of Clements, features a conjoined farmer and railroad conductor. The landmark was selected from 29 proposals submitted in 2010. In June 2011, the City Council approved the recommendation, and the work of designing and creating the statue began. It is one of the largest free-standing bronze statues in Northern California.
Speaking at the dedication, Cheney said the sculpture’s construction was an arduous process that began with building a full-size copy from high-density plastic foam. Covering it in hot clay to shape the details and textures took months. The scale was daunting, Cheney said.
“I would drive down here about once a month and stand around here and just look. And then go back home and look some more. I wanted to be sure it fit and look like it almost grew on this spot,” Cheney said.
“Harvest of Progress” arrived late in the evening Dec. 5. Crews spent hours, into the next morning, raising the statue into place in freezing temperatures.
Cheney accompanied the statue from the foundry near Sacramento and helped install it on the 4-foot-high pedestal.
“It’s a thrill to have it here, to have it in place and to think I actually had a part in it. In many ways, I really believe I am just the hands and it is all guided,” Cheney said.
Tracy City Council members and city employees gathered for the statue dedication, which concluded with a ribbon cutting and a reception for Cheney at the Grand Theatre Center for the Arts, 715 Central Ave.
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