Friends of a distinguished greeter to Wheeling travelers chipped in to give him a facelift. "The Indian" has greeted visitors to Wheeling since 1928 atop McCullough's Leap along National Road. As a crowd of about 50 watched, the cover came off, and he stood once again resplendent on his perch.
Chester Kloss, the retired Ohio County Clerk, grew up in the neighborhood. "I only lived about five houses away from here. Every day, I came down past here. This was kind of a meeting point," he remembered. "Everybody knew 'The Indian', and we would always meet at 'The Indian.'"
Wheeling Kiwanis Club members, along with Wheeling businessman George Lutz, commissioned the statue. Over the years -- "The Indian" has needed some help.
Wheeling Kiwanis Club President Wilkes Kinney talked about some of what happened over the years to the statue. "Somebody cut 'The Indian' down. It was welded back together," he said. Kinney went on, "So what we've done, is sand it, we have restained it, we have finished it, and this should be here 50 to 60 years before this needs done again."
Some more benign jokesters thought "The Indian" could use some clothing to match the weather. Kloss told a couple stories.
"Different seasons, 'The Indian' got dressed," Kloss said. "For instance, at Halloween he might have had some kind of a masquerade on there with a mask on him. He might have had a chair behind him, 'cos he was tired. He might have had a chamber pot on top of that, and this was like, every year," he said with a smile.
Other jokesters did not know what clothing "The Indian" required.
"Sometimes people didn't know if he was male or female. Because, he had a bra on every once in a while," Kloss said.
Regardless of what clothing appears on him, "The Indian" keeps alive memories for years to come. Now that the Wheeling Kiwanis Club has successfully completed this project, Kinney says they're ready to tackle some other worthy service projects in the area.