Rifles new roundabout round up
RIFLE, Colorado Some people driving by have thought it was a real cattle drive taking place in the middle of Rifles two roundabouts at the Interstate 70 interchange and at Airport Road.But its not.Its the work of Gary Russell, owner of The Iron Gallery east of Rifle, who was commissioned by the city to create the roundabout artwork. Two cowboys, a cowgirl, some doggies and, of course, several head of cattle grace the middle of the roundabouts.Im real proud of it, Russell said on Thursday, May 7, as he stood and watched the last of the sculptures being erected in the roundabouts. Its nice to get to do something that everybody can see.Russell spent about six months creating the sculptures in his shop, just east on Highway 6 & 24, where he sells his other handmade iron art.This is all handmade from pieces of recycled steel, he said, pointing to a cowboy astride a horse. Each piece was cut by hand and then hand-ground and hand-polished.The original design called for three cowboys, but Russell took a little creative license with the project.I put in a cowgirl and I added three dogs because you dont go on a cattle drive without your dogs, Russell said with a smile.He also added a little personal touch with one of the dogs collar that said Jake – Russells Blue Heeler that died a year ago and a brand on the cattle that has Russells initials of GLR.The sculptures of the cowboys/cowgirls on horseback weight about 600 pounds a piece. The cattle drive theme was chosen out of three possibilities by Rifle City Council members last year. The cost of the project was about $30,000.The idea was to have something festive and decorative, but low-key enough not to cause accidents, Mayor Keith Lambert said at the time. Cattle are a part of the heritage of our community.The actual roundabouts themselves were completed in the fall of 2008 by Martinez Western Constructors of Rifle. The project was part of a $4.1 million bond issue approved by voters in 2003 for a variety of street improvement projects throughout the city.For Russell, the roundabout structures are the biggest project hes ever undertaken.So far, Ive heard no negative comments. People go by and look at it and give us a thumbs up. The FedEx lady thought there were really cows in the road, Russell said with a laugh.The Iron Gallery is located at 28271 on Highway 6 between Rifle and Silt. It is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday and until noon on Sunday. For more information call Russell at 625-2297 or visit his website at http://www.artofiron.com.