Oakley — The newest tourist attraction near Oakley took six years of planning, $500,000 and a huge crane to become a reality.
The crane placed the 9,000-pound sculpture of Buffalo Bill Cody atop a man-made hill west of Oakley on Thursday. The sculpture was dedicated Saturday.
Lewis Evins, of Oakley, and Charlie Norton, of Leoti, spent six years planning and creating the sculpture.
"From day one, I've said when somebody sees this they are going to go home and say to people, 'You've got to go to Oakley, Kansas, and see that sculpture,'" Evins said.
What started as a drawing on a restaurant napkin became a two-times-larger-than-life bronze Birthplace of the Legend of Buffalo Bill Cody sculpture.
While Norton is happy with the project, he said he would do one thing differently.
"If I could change anything about the sculpture it would be much larger with at least three buffalo. You always need more buffalo," he said.
A stainless steel framework is encased inside the quarter-inch thick silica-bronze outside of each piece of the sculpture, which took three years to construct.
Norton's life has been built around his interest in art and history. He and his wife, Pat, moved to Loveland, Colo., to oversee the casting process.
Pat Norton has supported the dream to bring the sculpture to Oakley, which is about 320 miles due west of Lawrence.
"Lewis has a vision, but some people wonder why it's being put out here. This is the future Oakley. People aren't thinking out of the box yet," she said.
Gary and Raelene Keller, Oakley, donated the land where the hill has been constructed, and Sporer Land Development donated the dirt work.