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Bowie sandbar fight statue to be dedicated Tuesday

Robert and Janis Reich, of Dallas look at the new sculpture depicting the fight between Jim Bowie, left, and Major Norris Wells, right, by sculptor Roy Butler. Bowie Outfitters owner Mike Worley donated the sculpture to the City of Natchez.  (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Robert and Janis Reich, of Dallas look at the new sculpture depicting the fight between Jim Bowie, left, and Major Norris Wells, right, by sculptor Roy Butler. Bowie Outfitters owner Mike Worley donated the sculpture to the City of Natchez. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — Visitors can now experience the historic Bowie sandbar fight in a life-size way.

A statue depicting the famous duel is now on display at the Natchez Visitor Reception Center. Bowie’s Tavern owner Michael Worley acquired the statue after it was featured in the Historic Arkansas Museum in Little Rock.

Robert and Janis Reich, of Dallas look at the new sculpture depicting the fight between Jim Bowie, left, and Major Norris Wells, right, by sculptor Roy Butler. Bowie Outfitters owner Mike Worley donated the sculpture to the City of Natchez. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Robert and Janis Reich, of Dallas look at the new sculpture depicting the fight between Jim Bowie, left, and Major Norris Wells, right, by sculptor Roy Butler. Bowie Outfitters owner Mike Worley donated the sculpture to the City of Natchez. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Bowie’s Tavern Manager John Holyoak said Worley purchased the statue after the museum featured his (Worley’s) extensive Bowie knife collection.

“The statue served as a centerpiece to the collection,” Holyoak explained.

Worley decided to purchase the statue after the knives were taken off display.

Once receiving news of the purchase, Holyoak traveled to Little Rock in February to bring the statue to Natchez — “it’s rightful home,” he said.

“The sandbar fight happened right down on the Mississippi side of the river, so it makes sense for it to be here,” Holyoak said.

Kathleen Jenkins, superintendent of Natchez National Historic Parks, said deciding where the statue would be displayed was easy.

Since the duel happened on the bank of the Mississippi River, and the Natchez Visitor Reception Center overlooks the mighty waterway, Jenkins said the visitor center is an ideal home for the statue.

“It’s a great story that visitors are certainly interested in,” Jenkins said. “And it’s a great piece of art that adds to the experience of visiting Natchez.”

The statue, sculpted by Tennessee and Nevada based sculptor Roy W. Butler in 2013, depicts the 1827 fight between Jim Bowie and Maj. Norris Wright. Bowie, despite being shot and stabbed, was able to drive his knife into Wright’s chest, killing him.

Subsequently, the “Bowie knife” was coined.

“It’s a great story, and we’re excited to have the statue in Natchez,” Holyoak said.

The bodies of each sculpture are fabricated on metal frames and covered in resin.

The Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce will recognize the statue’s dedication to the Natchez Convention and Visitor’s Bureau Tuesday with a special after-hours celebration at the visitor center from 5:30 to 7 p.m.