Our Lady of the Rockies (Butte, MT)

07/26/17 Wednesday in Spokane Valley, WA (HOME)

Our Lady of the Rockies is this amazing 90’ iron statue of Mary. It sits on the Continental Divide, at over 8,000 feet. It’s the 4th tallest statue in the US. Most amazing is the story of the individuals who made it happen: all volunteers. In short, Bob O’Bill’s wife got cancer. He prayed that if she got well he would build a 5 ft statue of Mary in thanks. Once that happened, several friends felt that it would be better to build something bigger, maybe a statue for the Continental Divide, where the rain that fell on her front would flow to the Pacific Ocean and what fell on her back would flow to the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. Eventually they talked Leroy (Laurien Eugene Riehl) into building an iron structure of the statue. As each part that he attempted (hand, then face) was met with enthusiasm among those excited about the project, he felt guided, that he might actually manage to engineer it. The volunteers even managed to get rights to the property they wanted her to sit on, visible from the 2 freeways that reach all the way across the US: I-90 (E-W) and I-15 (N-S). They even got free space vehicle paint for her white color.

She is near Butte, MT. Because the property leading up to her is private you must get a school bus ride from the Butte Mall (Our Lady of the Rockies Gift Shop) to go up and down the mountain.

Roc 1

Once there Fr. Joe Bell (our parish priest) celebrated Mass for us in the chapel/activity building there.

Roc 2

Then we made our way to “the Lady”, entering her from the rear, then we posed at her front. Our dear school bus driver lay on a bench to take our photo in front of her (along with anyone else who wanted it).  Those fibrous looking rectangles in her robe (wings) are there to allow the wind to flow through, not knocking her down.

Then we enjoyed the view. The third image is of the City of Butte, the fourth is of the Berkely Pit, where toxins left from prior mining operations still exist and an open pit mine where they mined copper, silver and molybdenum mostly.

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About Patricia Elser

I've always loved the loose, flowing, transparent look of watercolors, of Chinese paintings and their calligraphy, but alas, no watercolor classes were available when I was in school, so that interest remained buried until my children were grown. Even then, I was afraid that I couldn't really paint, so upon my sister's advice, I actually started to take classes. I signed up for every class available, determined to learn no matter how afraid I was. I came upon a teacher, Stan Miller, who inspired me, who opened the door to success in watercolor. I love to look at beautiful images. I want to capture them forever. All my life, photography was how I gathered images of the beauty I saw. Thanks to all that photography, I enjoy composing pictures, especially up close. Watercolors allow me to add more of me in their translation of that beauty. My paintings reflect my love for music and dance, with their rhythm and flow. I am fascinated by the play of light, so it appears in my pictures as drama for they are filled with darks and lights. Maybe it's the challenge, maybe it's the beauty, but now, when a work comes together, it fills my soul.
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