Sunday, October 28, 2012

October 28: Madonna of the Trail

On this date in history ..... 1928:

The Indiana “Madonna of the Trail” is dedicated in Richmond, Indiana. 

The 9th in a series of 12, the Madonna statue is placed in each state in which the “National Road”  (i.e. U.S. 40) passes, to honor the pioneer mothers of covered wagon days. The National Road, sometimes referred to as the Ocean-to-Ocean highway, was the first interstate highway established by an act of Congress in 1806. Judge Harry S. Truman, then president of the National Old Trails Road Association, guaranteed the funds for these monuments, and attended the dedication of the Indiana monument. 

photo courtesy: ttp://

It is indicated Truman may have attended many of the other dedications, but confirmation this at each monument could not be found. However, this project was very important to Truman and it is said that he was a “driving force” behind the project. “On July 27, 1998, at Norfolk, Virginia, the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman, was commissioned. A 20" x 24" color photograph of the ‘Madonna of the Trail’ hangs in a place of honor in its Captain's Quarters.”

Created by German born artist August Leimbach, (who came to America in 1910 when he was 28 years old), the ten foot tall woman stands on a six foot base and weighs five tons.  All of the twelve statues are identical. 

All but two or three of the statues face west, the direction these pioneer women were traveling. The first Madonna was dedicated in Springfield OH on July 4, 1928.  The order of the remaining eleven’s dedication are:

2nd – Wheeling WV – July 7, 1928
3rd – Council Grove KS – Sept 7, 1928
4th – Lexington, MO – Sept 17, 1928
5th – Lamar, CO – Sept 24, 1928
6th – Albuquerque, NM – Sept 27, 1928
7th – Springerville, AZ – Sept 29, 1928
8th – Vandalia, IL – Oct 26, 1928
9th – Richmond IN – Oct 28, 1928
10th – Beallsville, PA – Dec 8, 1928
11th – Upland, CA – Feb 1, 1929
12th – Bethesda, MD – April 19, 1929

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