HORNELL – A public art installation depicting Hornell’s railroad history rose from the snowy ground at Shawmut Park on Tuesday – the semester-long project a legacy of the Alfred University students who created it.

Seven students from Alfred University's Art and Design program imagined and built the approximately 10-foot high by 20-foot wide arch of metal and wood that was erected along the park’s walking path. AU professor Brett Hunter, a Hornell resident, supervised the installation which required ladders, wrenches and a backhoe.

For students in Hunter’s Sculpture 255 class, seeing the work go up was confirmation that their design process worked. Due to limited space on campus, the students had to lay out the sculpture flat on the ground. Tuesday’s vertical installation put all of their planning to the test.

“I wasn’t quite sure of the structural stability, but it definitely holds its own, and it’s very impressive,” observed Jack Bancroft, a sophomore from Cortland.

“When we built it, we built it all horizontally because at our school it would have been really difficult to build it like this, so we kind of had to imagine what it would be like, so there was a lot of guessing,” according to Amy Kozlowski, a sophomore Fine Arts major from Syracuse.

“A lot of guessing,” affirmed sophomore Hunter Cady of Connecticut.

Tuesday’s wintry weather also tested the team’s design.

“Metal shrinks when it gets cold, so putting it together has been pretty difficult. We’ve had to hold it and grind some of the parts down and loosen some of the bolts to get it to fit together right, but we knew it was going to be cold,” Kozlowski said.

Finishing touches are planned for today. Once completed, the sculpture will provide Shawmut Park visitors will an abstract accounting of the Erie Railroad’s history in Hornell.

Kozlowski pointed to large metal plates at bases of the arch. Those, she said, represent the large cities that the Erie Railroad went through.

“So we started with Chicago, and on that side is New York City.”

Wooden inserts represent railroad ties joined by wire metal sections that “represent city lines.”

“Right there at the top where the wires connect would represent the city of Hornell,” she said, adding, “We also have a bench that will be placed right behind our sculpture, and the back of the bench has a map of the city of Hornell on it.”

Watching their work take shape, the students said that they hope Hornell residents will come to appreciate the Maple City’s history the way that they did over the course of the project.

“We learned a lot of history. We talked with the historian here in Hornell and learned a lot about the city. I enjoyed that. Building this was very hard but fun. I’m glad we did it,” said Molly Fitscher, a sophomore from Lake George.

While the sculpture may be the product of a semester’s work by students who are not from the Hornell area, Nathaniel Atkinson, a sophomore from Harrisville, New York, said that he hopes it leaves a legacy.

“Just the fact that we got to make a piece of artwork that is lasting, especially longer than us in the area, it just means a lot because of the craftsmanship that went into it. Everyone will get to see it, and I hope that it ties in enough to the town and the history that us making it for the town really comes through, and it’s understood that it’s for the town and not exactly for our personal gain.”