Limestone Park will be a new home for buffalo to roam starting Wednesday, June 13.
Life-sized bronze sculptures of a female buffalo and a calf will be erected at the park this week.
The sculptures come from the creative mind of Sam McKinney, a freelance sculpture and painter from Morehead and his friend, artist Eddie Holton.
According to Bruce Carlson of Carlson Software who owns and is developing the park, he didn’t know McKinney until he heard about him from another artist he had hired, James “Skip” Werline.
“When I mentioned to Skip my interest in doing two buffalo, he pointed me to Sam McKinney of Morehead,” Carlson said. “Sam and Skip took art classes together at Morehead State University.”
According to McKinney, he spent time studying buffalo on a friend’s farm to make sure the sculptures were anatomically correct.
Once the marquette, which is a rough draft of a sculpture, was approved, McKinney began the process by sculpting the buffalo in clay. After the clay sculpture was finished, rubber and plaster were applied so molten bronze could be poured in before creating the finished product.
The buffalo came back from the foundry in pieces.
“It was like putting a jigsaw puzzle together of my own work,” McKinney said.
After welding the pieces together, he cleaned and sand blasted them before applying the patina and lacquer.
Carlson said Limestone Park was created to contribute to the open space and aesthetics of downtown Maysville.
“It serves as an inviting point of entry to the business district,” Carlson said. “The city of Maysville made the first move by creating Limestone Landing, bringing in the French Quarter Hotel and painting the floodwall murals, all examples of quality design. Inspired by the city’s efforts, we extended those same design elements into Limestone Park and the Parc Café.”
Carlson said that buffalo were chosen for the sculptures because of close historical ties to the area.
“Before the damming of the Ohio River, there apparently was a low water rapids here in Maysville by Limestone Landing,” Carlson said. “In dry weather, the buffalo could cross the river and head south to the Blue Licks salt lick.”
According to Carlson, the buffalo created a trail that served as a road for early pioneers in the region. He said that while drilling a drain during the park’s creation, workers found nine buffalo horns and an assortment of leather objects.
“Making bronze buffalo and placing them as if they were on the buffalo trail, heading south, made sense,” Carlson said. “It provides a history lesson and also serves as an example of high art.”
The adult buffalo weighs approximately 1,200 pounds and is 10 feet long by five feet tall. The baby buffalo weighs 350 pounds and is 45 inches long by 30 inches tall at the hump.
The two statues will be placed on the right hand corner of the park as if they are coming up from the river. They will have the River Valley Hunting Grounds mural as a backdrop.
The buffalo will be placed on June 13 at 10 a.m.
More of McKinney’s art can be seen on his website at www.sammckinneyart.com.