Bushy Run Battlefield set to mark its 250th anniversary


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In August 1763, Native Americans clashed with British forces at a site in Penn Township, now known as Bushy Run Battlefield.

The British victory there has been recognized as the turning point in Pontiac's War and opened the gateway to western expansion.

But, unlike other battle sites throughout the United States, there has never been a monument at Bushy Run to recognize those who fought or the battle's historical significance.

That is about to change, as battlefield officials prepare for the placement of a bronze monument in anticipation of the 250th anniversary celebration in August.

"It's very exciting. It's been a long time in coming," said artist Robert Griffing, who was commissioned in the fall of 2011 by the Bushy Run Battlefield Heritage Society to design the monument.

Mr. Griffing, of Gibsonia, said his work concentrates on the Eastern Woodland Indians and frontiersmen of the 18th century. His paintings depicting Forts Duquesne and Pitt, the Braddock Expedition and other historical scenes have made him a household name on the frontier art circuit.

Mr. Griffing said he is honored to have been given the opportunity to design the monument. In 1996, he painted a scene from the Battle of Bushy Run.

"I've been fascinated by Bushy Run, ever since 1980s when I first went there," he said. "The monument is something I've always wanted," he said. "Bushy Run didn't have [one] to honor those who fought there."

Mr. Griffing's miniature model designs were handed over to sculptor Wayne Hyde of Bedford to make the bronze sculpture that, when finished, will measure approximately 8 1/2 feet long, 4 1/2 feet wide and 9 feet high.

Kelly Ruoff, society treasurer and chairman of the 250th anniversary celebration, said, "When we thought about a monument, we automatically thought of Griff. He then suggested Wayne."

Cost of the sculpture, which will be placed at the battlefield amphitheater and site of first day of battle, is estimated at $220,000. The cost includes the sculptures, the granite work, a brick patio and landscaping.

Miss Ruoff said the anniversary project is being paid for through a variety of fundraisers, including a spaghetti dinner and a buy-a-brick program where commemorative bricks are being sold to line the patio and walkway around the monument.

In addition, Miss Ruoff pointed out a unique raffle called "Tools of the Trade," which recognizes pioneer Andrew Byerly who ran an outpost used by British troops on their way to Fort Pitt and Fort Ligonier. Native Americans burned the station days prior to the Battle of Bushy Run.

The raffle prizes includes "replica tools" that Mr. Byerly would have used as he braved the inhospitable frontier.

First prize includes a Schreit-style rifle, a rifleman's pouch and a Lancaster screw-tip powder horn valued at $7,000. Other prizes include a Virginia-style brass barreled rifle and a 250th anniversary rifleman's bag; a custom engraved, silver inlaid pipe tomahawk; and a print by Mr. Griffing called "Fragile Trust." Tickets can be purchased on the battlefield website: www.bushyrunbattlefield.com.

In the meantime, Miss Ruoff said work on the monument site is expected to begin later this month with the sculpture being put in place prior to the 250th anniversary celebration set for Aug. 2-4. A public unveiling of the sculpture is set for 11 a.m. Aug. 3.

"We're so excited," Mr. Griffing said. "The neatest thing about bronze is that it will be around forever, long after my paintings have turned to dust."

For more on Bushy Run, call 724-527-5584, or visit its website, bushyrunbattlefield.com, or the visitor's center at the park, near the Penn Township village of Harrison City, 25 miles east of Pittsburgh.

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Linda Metz, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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