Unveiling of the first three statues for the Trail of Governors at Pierre is scheduled for Thursday, June 14 at 1 p.m. at the Capitol Rotunda.
The first three to be placed along the trail are the first South Dakota governor, Arthur C. Mellette (1889-1893); Harlan J. Bushfield (1939-1943); and Walter D. Miller (1993-1995).
According to Rick Jensen, president of the Trail of Governors Foundation, the unveiling ceremony will take about an hour.
The next day, Lake Oahe Days will get underway. A parade will begin at 6 p.m. on Friday, June 15, and the three statues will be featured on a float in the parade. The parade begins on South Washington, and the route will be marked.
Jensen said City of Pierre employees will place the statues. Bushfield’s statue will be on the southeast corner of Pierre and Sioux Avenue; Mellette’s statue will be at the Hughes County Courthouse; and Miller’s statue will be on the southwest corner of Highland and Capital Avenue. Each statue is life-sized.
James Michael Maher sculpted Bushfield’s statue. He has been a professional sculptor since 1989, and has worked with several nationally prominent artists. He admits he didn’t know anything about the state’s 16th governor until he began the sculpting project. “Now that I’ve learned about him, I would put him right up there (on my top list). He would be welcomed in the political climate today.”
Harlan Bushfield was born in Atlantic, Iowa, on August 6, 1882. He was reared in Miller, and was a well-known attorney. After serving as governor, he was a member of the U.S. Senate until his death on September 27, 1948. His wife, Vera, was appointed to finish his Senate term.
As governor, Bushfield established a pattern of fiscal responsibility for his successors and used his financial abilities to reduce state operating costs.
The Trail of Governors Foundation plans to place at least three statues per year. The statues will not be released in the order the governors served, but rather will be early, middle and later governors for each year. If more funding becomes available, more than three statues per year could be placed.
The plan is to place the statues in such a way as to lead people from downtown Pierre up to the State Capitol.
THE STATUE of Harlan Bushfield is one of the first three to be unveiled for the Trail of Governors in Pierre.