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Avard Fairbank’s Dodge Ram


Standing at the entrance of the North Dakota State Capitol Complex is a sculpture titled “The Pioneer Family.” The mother cradles a baby while the father looks forward, holding son and wife close. The boy's left hand rests on a wagon wheel, a symbol for civilization on the march.

The sculpture was created in 1946 by artist Avard Fairbanks. But it is another piece of artwork for which he is best remembered.

Nearly 15 years before sculpting “The Pioneer Family,” Fairbanks received a call from engineers at Dodge, desperate for a hood ornament that would rival the Rolls Royce. Within two weeks, Fairbanks had created the familiar charging ram, explaining to Dodge designers that the ram is sure-footed and would challenge anything.

Avard Fairbanks, who also designed the Plymouth’s Mermaid as well as the Griffin for the Hudson automobiles, died this month in 1987.

Written by Christina Sunwall


Eriksmoen, Curt. Did You Know That…?: Volume 1 (McCleery & Sons Publishing; 2006)

Smithsonian American Art Museum, Art Inventories Catalog- http://siris-artinventories.si.edu/ipac20/ipac.jsp?uri=full=3100001~!308377!0#focus