Ronald Reagan lived in Dixon, Illinois from 1920 to 1933, and he always, and fondly, called Dixon his "hometown". Over the years, even while serving as our 40th President, he made several visits back to Dixon to catch up and reminisce with family, friends, and old acquaintances. It was one of those return visits that ultimately inspired artist sculptor Donald L. Reed to conceive the initial "Begins the Trail" statue.
In the summer of 1950, Reagan "came home" to Dixon to participate in a community festival that was known as "Injun Summer Days". During the festival parade, Reagan rode through the streets of Dixon on a palomino horse. A photograph of that ride provided Reed, some 35 years later, with his inspiration for a nine-foot high bronze sculpture tribute to Reagan.
After the death of Reagan in 2004, local donors commissioned and fully supported the life-size statue of "Dutch" on horseback as a gift to the City of Dixon. Dedicated to the eradication of Alzheimer's, the one foe our beloved President was unable to overcome.
The statue, completed by Reed in 2006, is proudly the centerpiece of Dixon's Heritage Crossing Riverfront Plaza, along the shore of the Rock River from which Reagan saved 77 lives while serving as a lifeguard in the 1920's.
Photo captured July 14, 2019.
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