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War Eagle mural won’t be put up on outside of La Crosse Center



History lovers in La Crosse may have to figure out yet another place to put up a riverboat mural downtown, after one such painting was destroyed when a building was demolished.

The idea of painting the War Eagle boat on the exterior of the La Crosse Center has been voted down by the center board, because the construction of the building is not ideal for displaying artwork.

FILE – War Eagle steamboat (PHOTO: UW-La Crosse Historic Steamboat Photographs)

Center operations manager Kris Salzwedel looked into the idea, only to learn that painting the walls probably wouldn’t work very well, and a mural would be too expensive to maintain.

“Placing anything on the cement panels is very difficult,” he said, noting that it would be hard to drill into the walls, and drilling might affect the strength of those walls. “It’s too difficult of a structure aspect of it, and then the upkeep would be very expensive.”

One artwork option discussed by the board was the possibility of a screen-like material that could be placed on the center walls. The old Lackore Electric building on 3rd Street featured a War Eagle painting for many years, until the building was torn down. This summer, local history experts had suggested a War Eagle design for the center’s exterior, and a vote was postponed until the September board meeting.

City park director Jay Odegaard told the board that he hopes to find an appropriate site for an artwork honoring the War Eagle, which burned on the river and sank in 1870.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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