GRANTS PASS — For decades, a brutish 25-foot statue named the Caveman has greeted visitors to Grants Pass, playing on the city’s location near the Oregon Caves and symbolizing a tourism campaign that featured a group of boosters in coyote skins waving donkey jawbones at politicians and celebrities such as Herbert Hoover, Shirley Temple and Ronald Reagan.
But the fiberglass Caveman may be moving from its spot near the Southern Oregon town’s Chamber of Commerce, the Grants Pass Daily Courier reported.
It’s owned by the Cavemen, a pelt-wearing group formed decades ago to boost tourism. The group is down to three members and $1,200 in the bank.
One of the remaining members, Carl Rhodes, said the statue needs a new paint job, at a cost of about $800.
“We’d like to see him go to the high school,” Rhodes told the School Board this week. “We’re to the point now we don’t have the means to take care of him.”
The statue was fabricated by a California company for $10,000 and put up in 1971. Its height includes an 8-foot pedestal.
The sculpture’s location has come into question before, and other sites have been proposed. One is Cave Junction, the town closest to the Oregon Caves National Monument.
Some in Grants Pass consider the statue an embarrassment, but the Caveman name is rife in the city, on heating and towing companies, for example, as well as the town’s athletic teams.
“We are the Grants Pass Cavemen. He should be here,” school board member Mary Luther said.
Others have different ideas. Businessman Pat Fahey, a 1975 graduate of Grants Pass High School, said the school would be an OK location, but he’d prefer a Caveman that looked more cerebral, such as one used by a former camper manufacturer.
And one of the remaining Cavemen, Hank Gieske, would rather the statue stay where it is. He suggests a move be put to a community vote.
The Cavemen group has been around far longer than the statue. It was formed in 1922, and its members have helped celebrate the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge, among other travels to a world’s fair and Washington, D.C. They are best known for their antics with visiting celebrities.