Branding The Brazos sculptures nearing completion at Waco’s Suspension Bridge

The bronze herd populating the “Branding the Brazos” public sculpture project near the Waco Suspension Bridge added a mounted vaquero and steer in February, moving the three-dimensional tribute to Waco’s days as a Chisholm Trail stop closer to completion.

The addition, placed northwest of the park’s entry to the Waco Suspension Bridge, imparted more action to the herd already in place as the bandoliered vaquero, armed with holstered shotgun and pistol, waved his sombrero at a steer that is causing his horse to rear.

On the other side of the bridge entry are more cattle, headed by a trail boss. A black drover, yet to be cast, will complete the cowboys in “Branding the Brazos.” Artist Robert Summers hopes that figure can be finished and installed this year. It has been underwitten in large part by Waco businessman Clifton Robinson.

The vaquero features some of Summers’ most detailed work in his “Branding” herd, captured in the cowboy’s weathered face, his sombrero, his tooled leather saddle, cartridge belt, saddlebag and stirrups. Spurs on the vaquero’s boots also spin.

The cattle, when finished, will fall into roughly three groups, representing the Chisholm Trail, the Western Trail and the Shawnee Trail, paths that 19th-century cattle drives used through the Waco area on their way to northern stockyards and railroad junctures.

The Waco cattle are fatter than those Summers sculpted for a similar bronze cattle drive in Dallas’ Pioneer Park before his “Branding the Brazos.” It’s a point of pride and historical accuracy for Summers, who pointed out that cowboys on a drive were businessmen, too, and knew fatter cattle at market meant more silver in their pockets.

 

     
 
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