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Jim Tapken and Walter Borkowski, members of Willman-Fee Post #14 of the American Legion, stand next to the newly-restored cannon. Photo by Duke Wenzel, <i>True Dakotan</i>.
Jim Tapken and Walter Borkowski, members of Willman-Fee Post #14 of the American Legion, stand next to the newly-restored cannon. Photo by Duke Wenzel, True Dakotan.

Jerauld County's Big Gun

Jun 22, 2012

No one knows why or when Wessington Springs’ cannon arrived in South Dakota from its birthplace at the Watervalet Arsenal in New York, or if it ever saw action in wartime. But over the years, the 114-year-old weapon has become an important symbol of military service by Jerauld County veterans. Recently, the Wessington Springs True Dakotan announced that residents had restored the cannon to its original glory, using local time and talent. 

“The American Legion talked Brian Van Buren of Wessington Springs into doing the metal restoration that included disassembly, sand blasting, cleaning, painting and reassembly. Hub Kieser’s -81 Enterprises, on the north side of Wessington Springs, offered their facility for the restoration project. Fred Knight donated sand, Jason Weber donated the use of a sand blaster, South Dakota Wheat Growers provided an appropriate air compressor,” wrote the True Dakotan. They hired expert wheelwrights Hansen Wheel and Wagon of Letcher to built new wheels. The total cost of restoration was about $5,000.

The 829 lb. weapon now stands guard in front of the Jerauld County Courthouse as part of the Wessington Springs Veterans Memorial, where it will honor South Dakota veterans for many years to come.

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