Friday, August 9, 2013

Statue of Liberty in Susquehanna River

The Statue of Liberty is mostly synonymous with New York. A figure standing for freedom, independence, and virtue. But all throughout the World there are numerous replicas, including one hiding away in the middle of the Susquehanna river.

In the Dauphin Narrows just north of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania rests a 25 foot replica of Lady Liberty. But how it ended up here is more fascinating than the statue.

In 1986 the Statue of Liberty was celebrating it's 100th birthday. Lots of celebrations were held and commemorative coins were even minted for the occasion. A gentleman in Pennsylvania decided to come up with another way to honor lady liberty. In a friend's garage in Harrisburg, Gene Stilp spent numerous hours constructing a replica of the infamous statue using old venetian blinds and plywood. On July 1, 1986 Stilp and about a dozen close friends towed the 450 pound statue to the Susquehanna river. The group then occupied two rowboats and two canoes and hauled the replica a 1/2 mile downstream to an abandoned railroad pier poking out of the river. The crew, using ropes, than hoisted the massive likeness onto the old pier. After flipping on the construction light installed in the replica, the men quickly and quietly retreated from the river to enjoy some beers and pizza.

When morning came the gentlemen were in amazement at what was occurring. Traffic began backing up on highway 322 as passing motorists became fascinated and amazed. Morning commuters were pulling over to take pictures and contact radio stations. Initially it was all thought to be a hoax, but word soon traveled about the mysterious statue. The men were elated with the response the statue received. They weren't merely trying to prank everyone, just showing their love for their country.

Originally the statue was only intended to stay until Labor day of that year. But surprisingly stayed in place for 6 years until permanently damaged by a wind storm in 1992. The next several years Mr. Stilp raised money to build a new and improved statue. In 1997 a helicopter lowered the renovated statue into place. The new statue is constructed of wood, fiberglass, and metal. It weighs roughly 8000 pounds. And while Mr. Stilp and his friends initially raised their statue in the middle of night with no red tape. The brand new statue required several permits. It seems this prank to commemorate our country, will now be remembered for decades to come.

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