The identity and history of one of eastern Idaho’s iconic statues

Snake River Fur Trader statue on Memorial Drive in Idaho Falls. Photo taken in Oct. 2017. | Rett Nelson, EastIdahoNews.com

IDAHO FALLS – Nationwide conversations about racism following the death of George Floyd have resulted in many calling for statues and other monuments deemed racially insensitive to be removed.

Earlier this month, CNN reported statues of Christopher Columbus were being taken down across the country due to “his treatment of the Indigenous communities he encountered and for his role in the violent colonization at their expense.”

In Idaho, a Boise church decided to remove a stained-glass window of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

There are varying opinions about this topic, and it’s not a conversation we want to get into today. But it did get us thinking about the history behind specific statues and monuments in eastern Idaho.

Those who walk along the greenbelt in Idaho Falls may notice a statue on Memorial Drive called “Snake River Fur Trader.” A plaque on the statue lists Roy Reynolds as the artist.

Reynold’s work was featured in an art show at the Willard Arts Center in November 2016. A press release for that event states, “In 2000 he (Reynolds) won the commission for a bronze sculpture on the Idaho Falls Greenbelt. The Fur Trader stands on Memorial Drive in downtown Idaho Falls, depicting one of the men who paved the way for Lewis and Clark.”

EastIdahoNews.com spoke with Reynolds in 2017 to learn the identity of the man depicted in the statue. He said the statue does not portray any particular individual.

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“It’s a symbol of the early fur traders who came here. Most of them were of Scottish-Irish descent,” Reynolds said.

Reynold’s sculpture took an entire year to complete. He was one of four or five applicants who entered a contest hosted by the Idaho Falls Rotary Club.

Reynolds grew up in Idaho Falls. He learned to paint at age 3 at the kitchen table. After college, he worked as the art director for singer/songwriter Carole King for a short time, before beginning a 25-year career with the Idaho National Laboratory.

“What I like about painting is the surprises that happen. Lots of times I struggle, but at other times, I’m pleasantly surprised at what happens. Those magical moments are what keep me painting,” Reynolds said in a recent interview.

Reynolds is known for his impressionistic style and bold brushwork. His art has won multiple awards and has been used in publicity for Yellowstone National Park, Idaho and Montana.

Visit his Facebook page for more information.

Roy Reynolds in 2014 | Courtesy Facebook