Unveiled early in the life of Harrah's Ak-Chin Casino, the "Desert Oasis" sculpture was lowered Friday afternoon.

One of the consequences of expansion plans at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino was the removal of the iconic sculpture that has graced the front of the casino since 1999.


But it’s only a temporary situation.


“Desert Oasis,” created by the late Snell Johnson (he died in 2001), the work was 51 feet tall. The main feature was a symbolic eagle, wings spread out to 35 feet, atop a saguaro. But the work also involves five human figures, also cast in bronze.


The sculpture will be put in storage until near the end of new construction. As work begins on the north end of the casino, that self-parking lot will be fenced off, and buses will let passengers off in the area once occupied by “Desert Oasis,” according to General Manager Robert Livingston.


That will start mid-September and last for about a year. All self-parking will move the southeast side in front of the hotel. The lot was recently paved. As construction starts, there will also be a tunnel for safe access starting sometime in October.


Meanwhile, “Desert Oasis” has been packed away. The human figures went first. Then construction workers used two cranes to lift the saguaro and eagle, swing it down to horizontal and load it onto a truck bed.