Anyone running along the Poudre Trail will notice a new addition to the scenery around Pelican Lakes Golf and Country Club — a 22-foot-tall pelican sculpture carved from a cottonwood tree.
The sculpture — which artist Sheldon Roberts finished a week ago — is located west of where Water Valley Parkway meets the Poudre Trail, just south of Teal Court.
“If you go west from toward the lake and follow the trail around, you’ll see the tree on the southwest side of the trail and north of the river,” said Kurt Hinkle, director of marketing for Water Valley Land Company. “You can’t miss it.”
Water Valley Land Company President Martin Lind said he commissioned Roberts to carve the pelican from the 22-foot stump of the cottonwood tree.
“They had already removed the branches of the tree and we were able to keep the full 22-foot height,” Roberts said. “Martin Lind commissioned me to do the pelican. It’s one of the ways he gives back to the community.”
Roberts, a self-taught sculptor, used a chainsaw to do the bulk of the sculpting and finished the piece using sanding pads and dremel tools to sculpt the details. While sculpting, he had three scaffolding towers surrounding the stump to reach all sides of the sculpture. The piece took Roberts about three months to complete because of other projects he was working on at the same time — otherwise, he said the project would have taken him two or three weeks.
“As far as we know, it’s the world’s largest pelican sculpture,” Hinkle said, adding that the former tallest pelican sculpture, standing at 15.5 feet, is located in Pelican Rapids, Minn. “We’re planning to put a plaque out there with the sculpture to let people know.”
Roberts has been sculpting wood with his chainsaw for 18 years and his sculpting work is his main source of income. He estimated he has completed more than 21,000 bronze, steel and wood sculptures — some large and some small — over the course of his career.
“My art tends to be extremely eclectic,” Roberts said. “Humans, wildlife, abstract pieces — it doesn’t matter.”
He currently lives in Canon City, but will soon be moving to Windsor. For more information about Roberts and his work, visit www.sheldonart.com or call (719) 371-3575.
“We believe the pelican has adopted Windsor and we have adopted it,” Lind said. “We thought we’d honor it. We looked it up. My former marketing manager Jim Jensen always thought it would be cool to build the world’s biggest something, so we decided it would be the world’s biggest pelican sculpture. We dedicate it to North Colorado and all the Poudre Trail users will get to enjoy it for the rest of their lives.”