Circuit Rider statue
Monument honoring mid-19th-century Christian ministers who served multiple congregations in communities spread over significant distances on the Oregon frontier. Sculpted by A. Phimister Proctor, it depicts itinerant minister Robert Booth.
Backstory and Context
This monument depicts the donor's father, Robert Booth. Robert Booth had been a Methodist circuit rider. The Booth family migrated west on the Oregon Trail in 1852. Robert and one of his sons became gravely ill while on the trail. His wife made him promise that if God delivered him from death, Robert would become a Christian preacher once they settled in Oregon. Robert served as a circuit rider in the Willamette Valley, eventually covering seven counties.
The statue was sculpted by prominent western sculptor A. Phimister Proctor. It portrays an aging minister who studies his Bible while riding atop a plodding horse. Proctor also sculpted the Pioneer and Pioneer Mother on the University of Oregon campus in Eugene and the equestrian Pioneer Mother in Kansas City, Missouri.
An estimated 5,000 people attended the statue's 1924 dedication in front of the state capitol. It was moved a short distance to the east side to accommodate the construction of a new capitol the following decade. It was then reoriented in January 1953 so that the circuit rider would be facing westward. A falling tree knocked over by the Columbus Day storm on October 12, 1962, severely damaged the statue. Artist James Lee Hanson restored the statue, sculpting a new head for the rider.
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