By Margaret Allen
It was millions of years in the making, but Hays sculptor Pete Felten Jr.’s limestone locomotive has made its way to the Downtown Pavilion in Union Pacific Park at 10th and Main.
Donated to the city of Hays by Hays attorney John T. Bird, the train on Thursday morning was welcomed to its new home during a brief celebration in the Pavilion.
A crowd of well-wishers gathered to watch the unveiling and applauded as a white sheet, held down with rocks against the morning’s cool, gusty breeze, was pulled away by Bird and others to reveal the sculpture and its dedication stone.
Modeled after the historic decommissioned Union Pacific Locomotive 6072, the 300-pound Felten sculpture is now on permanent display at the Pavilion.
Bird, admitting a love of trains since having watched them as a boy growing up in Hays, said he couldn’t keep the sculpture to himself but wanted everyone to enjoy it as a piece of the town’s history.
“This piece of art belongs to all of you,” Bird said to the crowd. “Hays, the railroad, the people who live here, are all part of one big family ... and Pete Felten is like the knitting needle that has brought us all together.”
Thursday’s reveal, hosted by the Downtown Hays Development Corp. and emceed by DHDC executive director Sara Bloom, marked the official installation of the sculpture.
“You’ll see that the engine isn’t quite perfect, there’s a few fossils sticking out, it’s not symmetric,” Bloom said. “But Pete Felten, being the artist that he is, took an irregular piece of rock, worked around the defects, saw past the limitations and made something truly beautiful that we can all enjoy. I hope in 2020 that each of us can say that we did the same. May we all work around the inconveniences, see past the disagreements and shape something beautiful.”