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Oddball sculptures turn Crescent into a draw

CRESCENT — A woodsman with a face on both sides of his head.

A welcoming bear.

Bigfoot with a brew.

And one gruff-growling, mean-looking bear, standing tall, snarling and threatening with one front paw and holding a big-eyed fish in his other.

Welcome to Crescent.

Crescent is a small incorporated Klamath County community about 90 miles north of Klamath Falls. It has an RV park, Crescent Ranger District office and a small smattering of businesses that front both sides of Highway 97. Originally named Odell in 1901, it was changed to Crescent in 1907 in recognition of Crescent Lake 15 miles west in the Cascades.

It was at Odell-Crescent that the proposed junction of the north-south and east-west railroads was planned to be located. At the time, when people thought the community would be a railroad junction, homesteads sold quickly, according to letters from Helen Helfrich, an author of the "Klamath Echoes" book series.

Crescent is located just south of Gilchrist, although many travelers consider the two communities extensions of each other. With its impossible-to-miss shopping center, school and lumber mill, Gilchrist overshadows its neighbor. In recent years, ongoing hard economic times have resulted in the closure of several Crescent businesses.

Crescent's claim to fame is its unusual sculptures that front a trio of remaining businesses.

The Woodsman Country Lodge, which is closed for the winter and will reopen in May, features a logger slamming his ax in a log. Unusually, his two-faced head points both north and south, so that it's visible face-forward from either direction.

Up the block and across the highway is the Crescent Country Store. Out front is a smiling wooden bear with an upraised arm holding a "Welcome" sign.

Nearby, too, at the aptly named Bigfoot Tavern, is a wooden figurine of Bigfoot holding an overflowing beer mug.

"We get quite a few people who stop by to have their picture taken," said Carroll Flowers, a Bigfoot employee, who believes Bigfoot was set in place last May by new owners. "It does draw some people in." But one of the community's most noticeable figures is perched atop Ken's Sporting Goods, the angry-appearing, keep-your-mitts-away-from-my-fish bear.

"It's a landmark," says shop owner Chuck Defoe of the fiberglass bear and fish atop the store. "We were in Parade magazine a couple of years ago." He says the bear is good for business, and suspects the Woodsman's woodsman and Bigfoot are good for enticing people who do more than stop and take photos.

"They come from all over the place — Canada, Europe, all over the U.S. — and take pictures of it," Defoe says of the fish-holding bear. "They've never seen anything like it. They come in the store. It works."