Council gives historic sculptures new home

Lifesize bull, bear to be displayed in downtown
By: Cheri March
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A pair of famous former residents is moving back to Colfax. Colfax City Council members, meeting in their newly refurbished council chambers on Wednesday night, approved the permanent installation of the historic, lifesize bear and bull sculptures. The redwood sculptures will be placed at the north end of the Historic Passenger Depot, just outside the Colfax Heritage Museum. Once a prominent fixture in front of a popular Bull and Bear restaurant (now Mom’s Kitchen) on Canyon Way, the restored pieces represent staged fights between real bulls and bears that purportedly took place in Iowa Hill and other mining towns during the Gold Rush. The blood sport, which dates back to ancient Rome, later came to represent the stock market. They also symbolize two animals significant in the settlement of California – the ox that pulled wagons and plowed fields for pioneers and the California grizzly that became a state symbol. Many longtime Colfax residents recall climbing on the redwood statues as children, said Colfax Heritage Museum volunteer Nancy Hagman. Over time, the bear’s face and leg deteriorated and the bull’s horns were stolen four times before being replaced. Area artists Mel Henderson, his son, Theron Henderson, and John Barrow carefully restored the aging animals on the elder Henderson’s Grass Valley property over the past year. “This has been years in the making,” Hagman said. “These guys have done an amazing job of bringing the sculptures back.” City planners and the Colfax Area Historical Society, the group that owns the sculptures, are still discussing fencing and other installation features. “That’s to keep the two-legged varmints from bothering the bull and bear,” Hagman said. Hagman hopes the sculptures will be installed by the city’s Independence Day celebration. In other business, the council adopted a resolution rescinding current members of the city’s economic development commission, which hasn’t met since 2006. Additionally, the resolution revised its bylaws to allow each elected council member to appoint one person to the commission, rather than selecting the entire commission as a whole council. “We’re not sure who’s still there (on the commission) and who’s not. It was a mess,” explained Mayor Josh Alpine. “It was basically a vacated commission, but you can’t just start reappointment without rescinding (prior) appointments. Now we can start fresh.” The commission is responsible for advising the council on economic issues like improving employment, business and tax base.