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South Tampa News

Riverwalk's historical trail taking shape

Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 10:39 PM

By year's end, the makings of a historical monument trail will take shape when the busts of six Tampa area trailblazers are unveiled along the downtown Riverwalk.

Three oil-based clay busts already are formed, and in coming months the works will be turned into bronze busts. Artist Steve Dickey is continuing to fashion the three other busts, which he said are between five and 30 percent complete.

On Thursday, Dickey showed off the completed clay busts of a Mound Builder, one of Florida's first people; nurse Clara Frye; and Henry B. Plant, who brought the railroad and the Tampa Bay Hotel to Tampa.

Dickey still is working on the busts of cigar czar Vicente Martinez-Ybor; shipping magnate James McKay; and suffragist Eleanor McWilliams Chamberlain.

In March, the six historical figures lauded for their positive effects on Tampa or Hillsborough County were chosen for busts.

A panel of nine historians including Tampa Bay History Center curator Rodney Kite-Powell and former Tampa Tribune reporter Leland Hawes selected the honorees.

The six busts likely will be completed in November and unveiled along the Riverwalk in early December, said Steve Anderson, vice president of the board of Friends of the Riverwalk.

Plant's bust will be placed along the Riverwalk by Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park; Frye's at Waterworks Park; the Mound Builder at Cotanchobee Park; Ybor's near the history center; Chamberlain's at the Performing Arts Center; and McKay's at the Convention Center.

The first six busts will be placed on solid granite pedestals. Each pedestal will have a plaque describing the person's accomplishments.

The nonprofit group Friends of the Riverwalk worked with the Tampa Bay History Center on the project. Private donations paid for the six busts.

In future years, dozens more contributors will be honored on the trail winding along downtown Tampa's waterfront. Monuments showcasing seminal events in the county's history ultimately will be added, too. The project's goal is to inform Riverwalk strollers about the area's significant people and events. Honorees must be dead at least 15 years.

Money already is available, through county and private sources, to produce the next three years' worth of honorees, Anderson said. The goal is to announce the next six in early February.

Ultimately the Riverwalk will span about 2½ miles and create a pedestrian corridor from the Channel District to Tampa Heights.

For more information about the six honorees, visit www.tampariverwalkhistorictrail.com/honorees.html

jpoltilove@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7691