A new sentinel has risen from the heart of an old guardian at Wegner’s Quartz Crystal Mine just south of Mount Ida.
The sentinel, a sculpture of Michael the Archangel, stands guard over the office and showroom at Wegner’s Ranch. He was carved from an 150 year old oak tree that has stood guard over the grounds for over 30 years.
Richard Wegner, owner of the mine, explained that the tree had been struck by lightning in April, damaging it beyond repair.
“We brought in an arborist to try and save the tree, but it was just a waste of money.” He stated.
After a few months of fruitless attempts to save the tree, Wegner decided to make the most of a horrible situation. The old oak was a centerpiece of the area and was a landmark for many of their returning guests. As one turned onto the property the tree was one of the first things that caught your eye.
Richard decided to do what he could to preserve the heart and soul of the landmark. He stated that he had always wanted an angel on the property and he realized this was the perfect opportunity to do so. He settled on Michael the Archangel.
“This tree has always been our guardian and we wanted to do something positive, so what’s better than the leader of all the angels.” he quipped.
Richard began looking for someone to release the angel from the remains of the tree. Gary Keenan, a native of Iowa, rose to the forefront of Wegner’s search. Richard cited Gary’s attention to detail. He pointed out that if you look at the surface of the sculpture you don’t see the chain saw marks normally visible on sculptures of this type.
The sculpture took about a week to complete. Keenan stated that this piece was difficult for many reasons. The figure of Michael stands around six and a half feet tall and the entire piece towers over the area at 15 feet. The base is decorated with plants and animals that have enjoyed the shade and protection of the old tree over the years.
Keenan stated that he had done angels and he had done men, but this was his first male angel figure. The work was slow at first with Gary climbing up and down on the scaffolding needed for the gigantic work. However, once he finished the figure the work on the base moved along much quicker.
Wegner’s desire to save this old friend of the community has provided the area with a new object of pride. The sculpture is the first thing you notice as you approach the property as he watches silently over the grounds just as the tree he emerged from did for so many years.
Wegner’s Quartz Crystal Mine is located at 82 Wegner Ranch Road. They are located approximately six and a half miles south of Mount Ida just off Highway 27.
For more information on the mine visit their website at www.wegnercrystalmines.com, or call them at (870) 867-2309. They are open from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. daily.