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Erroneously known as "Iron Mike," the original statue was actually cast in zinc. "Pioneer Mike" is a beloved copy of Allen G. Newman's 1903 Pioneer for Salem, Oregon. It was repeatedly damaged by vandals before finally being removed in 2014. It was replaced with a bronze recasting two years later.

"Pioneer Mike" statue. Photo by Daderot.,_Oregon_-_DSC02663.JPG

"Pioneer Mike" statue. Photo by Daderot.,_Oregon_-_DSC02663.JPG
At the turn of the 20th century, New York artist Allen G. Newman sculpted an Oregon pioneer based on historic objects provided by the Breyman family of Salem, Oregon. The original zinc casting was erected near the Oregon state capitol in Salem in 1904. J. L. Mott Iron Works in New York cast numerous copies of "The Pioneer."

The original Salem statue was toppled by a windstorm in 1917 and never replaced. A copy of that statue, known as "Pioneer Mike" was cast in zinc and erected in downtown Ashland in 1910.

Ashland's "Pioneer Mike" was installed atop the Carter Memorial Fountain in Plaza Island. It commemorates Henry B. and Harriet H. Carter, a couple who were active in Ashland community life in the late 19th century. They migrated from Iowa in 1884. Henry founded the Bank of Ashland, the city's first financial institution. Harriet was active in her church and the temperance movement.

Ashland's pioneer statue is affectionately known as "Pioneer Mike" or the misnomer "Iron Mike." The monikers may honor long-time city administrator E. C. "Mike" Biegal.

"Pioneer Mike" was repeatedly damaged by vandalism and pranks. In 1931, a truck struck the statue. In 1969, someone lassoed the statue and toppled it. It was repaired with fiberglass, producing a changed posture, and reinstalled in 1973. In 2001, the arm and rifle were pulled off by vandals. They were reattached, and then removed again in 2014. Following the 2014 attack, the statue was deemed beyond repair.

Rather than repair the fragile zinc statue again, the city of Ashland chose to replace it. A Portland sculptor and mold-maker traveled to Storm Lake, Iowa, to make a mold of the only other casting of Allen G. Newman's pioneer statue still in existence. From that mold, a sturdier bronze cast was made. It was installed on the Carter Memorial Fountain in July 2016. 

Prescott, Cynthia Culver. Pioneer Mother Monuments: Constructing Cultural Memory. Norman, Oklahoma. University of Oklahoma Press, 2019.

Kramer, George. "Pioneer Mike:19190-2016" pamphlet. Ashland, Oregon, 2016.

Weber, Natalie. "Ceremony welcomes Ashland statue back on plaza fountain." NBC 5 News. July 2, 2016.

Darling, John. "Ashland's Iron (aka Pioneer) Mike statue needs a recast, expert says." Ashland Daily Tidings May 4, 2015.  

Darling, John. "'Pioneer Mike' gets a makeover in Iowa so he can return to Ashland Plaza." Mail Tribune (Ashland) October 09, 2015. Oregon ed.