There’s a lot of talk in the news today about statues; which ones should stay versus which ones should be removed from public view. While I have my own opinions on the tearing down of these statues, I thought the situation provided the perfect opportunity to showcase a variety of statues scattered around the United States. This will be a five part series in which I will showcase one statue per State in groups of ten. I hope you enjoy this little tour of these delightful monuments.
Being me, I’ll do this in alphabetical order beginning with Alabama.
The statue to the right is known as “The Vulcan”. Located in downtown Birmingham, it sits atop Red Mountain. The Vulcan is the largest cast iron statue in the world. It stands at 56 feet tall and has an observation balcony on its pedestal which provides a remarkable view of the city. The pedestal itself is 124 feet high. The Vulcan depicts the Roman God Vulcan, god of fire and forge.
It was created as Birmingham’s entry for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri at the 1904 World’s Fair.
Now as a dog lover, I have to admit this is my favorite statue of the ten. It also makes me want to visit Juneau, Alaska even more than I already did. The story is that the official greeter of Juneau was a bull terrier pup named Patsy Ann, who began her volunteer work in 1929 and didn’t quit until she died 13 years later. According to her fans, Patsy Ann was the most famous canine west of the Mississippi. Anecdotal evidence suggests she’s more photographed than Rin Tin Tin. (Just knowing who Rin Tin Tin is makes me feel rather old)
The life-sized statue you see to the left carries on Patsy’s wharfside greeting responsibilities. It is said that clippings of dog hair from all over the world were mixed into the bronze when it was cast.
My Dad is a huge western fan, so this next one is for him as we move into Arizona.
If the wild west holds any appeal, you will not want to miss these life-sized statues of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday. The statues are made of bronze and they mark the spot at the Tuscon train depot where Wyatt Earp killed Frank Stillwell in a gunfight in 1882. It was said that Stillwell had killed Wyatt’s brother, Morgan Earp, a couple of days earlier prompting Earp to leave his law abiding ways to seek revenge.
If you are a ghost hunter or drawn to the otherworldly, these statues may hold an added appeal. Locals swear the restless spirit of Stillwell still haunts the old train yard.
To the right we have the famous Christ of the Ozarks statue which resides in Arkansas.
The monumental sculpture of Jesus is located near Eureka Springs atop Magnetic Mountain. The work of Emmet Sullivan (known for his work on the nearby Dinosaur World), it is a more modern and minimalist protrayal of Jesus than is normally seen. The outstretched arms suggest the Crucifix, however a cross is not part of the sculpture. It was erected in 1966 as a “sacred project” by Gerald K. Smith.
The statue stands 65.5 feet high and has little facial detail or expression. The lines and forms are simplified. The statue was featured briefly in the 2005 movie Elizabethtown as well as in the 1988 movie Pass the Ammo.
The greeter to this park is its 49 foot, 2 inch talking Paul Bunyan and his ever present Blue Ox, Babe. Nearly every visitor poses next to Bunyan’s mighty boot toe, while he slowly waves his hand, nods his head and blinks his eyes. The interaction doesn’t stop there either. Talk to the statue and it may just tell you a corny joke.
Both statues are constructed of wooden beams, wire and cement stucco. Paul weighs in at 30,000 pounds. Babe (the Ox) was replaced with the current statue in 1952. The original Ox’s head nodded and smoke shot out of it’s nose, however the smoke scared some of the children in the park so it was discontinued and the new statute does not move.
In Colorado Springs, Colorado we find the statue of General William Jackson Palmer.
General Palmer was an American civil engineer, a soldier, industrialist, and philanthropist. During the Civil War, he was promoted to Brigadier General and was a Medal of Honor recipient. A huge supporter of all things Educational, he contributed financially to educational efforts for the freed former slaves of the South after the war ended.
He was the founder of the new city of Colorado Springs (1871) as well as several other smaller communities.
The statue was sculpted by Nathan Dumont Potter and was erected in 1929. The statue was funded through donations to the William Jackson Palmer Memorial Association.
I wouldn’t be much of a writer if I didn’t include at least one statue of a famous writer. I didn’t have far to go to find one. In Hartford, Connecticut outside of the Hartford Public Library stats the sculpture of Mark Twain (otherwise known as Samuel L. Clemons 1835-1910).
It was originally commissioned by a Mississippi riverboat company, however when they defaulted on payment, it was acquired by the Hollander family who donated it to the City of Hartford. Standing 6.2 feet high, the bronze statue rests on a pink granite base.
Sculpted by Jim Brothers, it was cast a the Heartland Art Bronze foundry. Commissioned in 1992, it was dedicated in November 1994. On the North face of the base an inscription reads:
One of the nation’s most celebrated authors, Mark Twain lived in Hartford during the peak of his writing career, from 1871 until 1891.
Of Hartford, Twain wrote: “Of all the beautiful towns it has been my fortune to see this is the chief. You do not know what beauty is if you have not been here.”
In 1638, Swedish and Finnish colonists from the ships Kalmar Nyckel and Fogel Grip established a timber and earth port along the Christina River in Wilmington, Delaware. Named Fort Christina after the then 12 year old queen of Sweden, it was the first Swedish settlement in American and the first permanent non-native settlement in Delaware.
On June 27, 1938, Delaware celebrated the 300th anniversary of the landing of the Swedes and Finns with the dedication of the newly constructed Fort Christina State Park near the site of the original settlement. Within the park, this monument depicts the Swedish colonial vessel, the Kalmar Nyckel, atop a granite column. The statue was a gift from Sweden to the United States. It was sculpted by Carl Milles (a Swede) in 1938.
Ah… moving on to my home state of Florida and adding a bit of romance to these otherwise stiff tributes.
Officially, the sculpture is called “Unconditional Surrender”, though locals call it The Kiss. It was inspired by the famous photo taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt in 1945 which appeared in Life Magazine of a sailor kissing a nurse. The original statue was made of styrofoam (not very durable) in 2005. It was installed in Times Square in New York City to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II.
Later in 2005, this much larger statue, made of aluminum, was installed in Sarasota. The 25 foot statue (shown on the right) was created by J. Seward Johnson. It was removed in 2006. The Sarasota statue returned in 2008. It is on loan until at least 2018.
The final statue featured in today’s grouping is located in Decatur, Georgia.
Aptly titled Valentine, the bronze sculpture was created by George Lundeen. It resides in front of the Old Courthouse, reflecting the enduring love shared by two people. The artist completed a sculpture of this couple early in their life together and returned to them years later to compose this piece.
The sculpture is on permanent loan from Wesley Woods Center, the geriatric services component of Emory Health Care. The City of Decatur dedicated the sculpture to the anonymous donor who made it possible.
I hope you enjoyed this first look into some of the statues located around the United States. If you live in one of the above states and have a statue in your state you’d like to showcase, include the picture in the comments or feel free to email it to me and I’ll happily share.