Back in 1997 when I pulled over to the side of highway 167 to photograph this limestone hog sculpture in somebody's front yard, nobody at the house knew anything about it. (Hog? What hog?) They didn't know who carved it, how long it had been there or how much it weighed.
My previous article, loaded with bad guesses and outright errors, eventually caught the attention of people who did know something about it. So thanks to Helmuth Unverricht and Brenda Horton and the people at the Janelle Y. Hembree Alumni House at the University of Arkansas, here's the poop.
In 1976, Elbert Baker became director of the U. of A. Experimental Strawberry Substation at this location. He asked his father-in-law, Orville Skaggs, to carve a razorback, the animal totem of the U. of A., for the grounds. Orville, a retired coal miner and lumberyard worker, was a hobbyist wood carver.
A big hunk of limestone, later estimated by a highway department engineer at 9.5 tons, was obtained from an irrigation pond excavation. He worked on his hog down by the pond, but once the basic shape was roughed out, they moved it to the side of the highway where work continued until 1980.
The ten ton hog was moved a few feet when highway 167 was widened. The experimental substation was closed when the grounds became infected with a plant disease called red stele.
In 2000, Elbert donated the ten ton hog to the University of Arkansas, and it was hauled 214 miles to Fayetteville. Here is Orville Skaggs' stone razorback in its present station of honor in a garden behind the alumni center across Razorback Road from Razorback Stadium. The red and white ribbon are U. of A. school colors and they remain around Punkin's neck through football season.
If you're interested in roadside art, call the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program at 501-324-9880 and request their pamphlet "Stone and Steel: A Sculptural Tour of Arkansas." if you're interested in artwork that glorifies hogs, go to the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and just start walking around.