New Metal Artwork at Horicon Marsh Commemorates Outdoor Enthusiast | daily citizen

HORICO – An intricate collection of metal art forms a striking new memorial to an outdoorsman who frequented the Horicon Swamp.

DNR wildlife conservation educator Liz Herzmann said the memorial was added to attract visitors to the year-round picnic shelter that opened a year ago atop the popular Palmatory Street Overlook from Horicon.

A new picnic shelter is now open at Palmatory Street Overlook. A panoramic view of the Horicon Marsh is seen from the site.

The centerpiece of the sculpture was donated by Frances Milburn in tribute to her son Richard W. Milburn, who passed away on December 15, 2020.

Frances was a teacher in the Watertown School District and Herzmann said they met when she visited the swamp on field trips with her students.

“She also took her children to the swamp for outings and hikes and really had a family connection to this site,” she said.

Because his son enjoyed hiking and loved the outdoors, Milburn wanted to provide a lasting memory of him at Horicon Marsh.

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“We knew we had this big empty space in front of the new picnic shelter that we wanted to fill,” Herzmann said. “So when the memorial donation talks started, I thought maybe this was the perfect place and opportunity to do something special there.”

Herzmann turned to metal artist Dan Gassner of Bent Outa Shape at LeRoy to create a custom design. The Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center offers some of its pieces in its gift shop and it has also created the selfie booths found throughout the swamp. Herzmann said he was thrilled to be part of the project.

The memorial was put in place last month and became the talk of the town on Saturday when Friends of the Horicon Swamp Visitor and Education Center hosted an ice cream party at the Palmatory Overlook.

A metal muskrat sitting next to its hut is one of the animals featured in a new art sculpture at Horicon Swamp. Dan Gassner of Bent Outa Shape at LeRoy was commissioned to create a piece for the Palmatory Overlook in memory of Richard W. Milburn.

Kelly Simon

A canoe made of rebar sits in the center of the room. Gassner said there was symbolism throughout the work. A giant bar tree has three stainless steel owls perched on its branches to represent a dad and his two daughters (Richard, Elcie and Emryn). Wildlife found in the marsh such as a heron, frog, muskrats and raccoons are also incorporated into the design.

As the memorial came together, Milburn said she felt it showed the best of Horicon Swamp and matched the spirit of her son.

Follow Kelly Simon on Twitter @KSchmidSimon or contact her at 920-356-6757.

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