Boll Weevil Monument

The Boll Weevil Monument in downtown Enterprise, Alabama, United States is a prominent landmark and tribute erected by the citizens of Enterprise in 1919 to show their appreciation to an insect, the boll weevil, for its profound influence on the area's agriculture and economy. Hailing the beetle as a "herald of prosperity," it stands as the world's first monument built to honor an agricultural pest.[2]

Boll Weevil Monument
Boll weevil monument.jpg
The Boll Weevil Monument in Enterprise, Alabama at its original location. A replica now stands in its place to prevent theft and vandalism.
Boll Weevil Monument is located in Alabama
Boll Weevil Monument
Boll Weevil Monument is located in the United States
Boll Weevil Monument
LocationMain and College Sts.
Enterprise, Alabama
Coordinates31°18′52″N 85°51′14.5″W / 31.31444°N 85.854028°W / 31.31444; -85.854028Coordinates: 31°18′52″N 85°51′14.5″W / 31.31444°N 85.854028°W / 31.31444; -85.854028
Built1919
ArchitectBama Foundry Co.
NRHP reference #73000336[1]
Added to NRHPApril 26, 1973

The Monument consists of a statue of a woman holding a pedestal with a boll weevil perched on top.

StoryEdit

 
Historical Marker by the monument, at the intersection of Main and College.

The boll weevil (Anthonomus grandis), sometimes referred to as the "Mexican cotton boll weevil"[3] was indigenous to Mexico, but appeared in Alabama in 1915. By 1918 farmers were losing whole crops of cotton. H. M. Sessions saw this as an opportunity to convert the area to peanut farming. In 1916 he convinced C. W. Baston, an indebted farmer, to back his venture. The first crop paid off their debts and was bought by farmers seeking to change to peanut farming. Cotton was grown again, but farmers learned to diversify their crops, a practice which brought new money to Coffee County.

Bon Fleming, a local businessman, came up with the idea to build a statue and helped to finance the cost. As a tribute to how something disastrous can be a catalyst for change, and a reminder of how the people of Enterprise adjusted in the face of adversity, the monument was dedicated on December 11, 1919 at the intersection of College and Main Street, the heart of the town's business district.

DescriptionEdit

The monument depicts a female figure in a flowing gown with arms stretched above her head. She raises high a trophy topped by an enlarged-scale boll weevil. The statue stands atop an ornately detailed base which supports two round streetlamps. The base stands in the center of a fountain, which is surrounded by a wrought-iron railing. The monument stands more than 13 feet (4.0 m) tall.

At the base of the monument appears the following inscription:

"In profound appreciation of the Boll Weevil and what it has done as the herald of prosperity this monument was erected by the citizens of Enterprise, Coffee County, Alabama."[2]

The original statue of the woman, excluding the fountain and boll weevil, was built in Italy for approximately $1,800. The boll weevil was not added until thirty years later, when Luther Baker thought the Boll Weevil Monument should have a boll weevil on it. He made the boll weevil and mounted it atop the statue.

 
The nearby Depot Museum houses the original statue.

VandalismEdit

The boll weevil, and sometimes even the entire monument, has been repeatedly stolen throughout the years. Each time it was found and repaired by the city of Enterprise until July 11, 1998. On that day vandals ripped the boll weevil out of the statue's hands and permanently damaged the statue. City leaders were going to repair the original statue and put it back, but it proved too difficult and costly. A polymer-resin replica was erected in its place in downtown Enterprise in 1998, and the original is on display at Enterprise's Depot Museum, a few hundred feet away at 106 Railroad Street. A nearby security camera monitors the monument for further vandalism. In recent memory, dish soap has been poured into the monument fountain resulting in mounds of suds in and around the monument area.

In Popular CultureEdit

The monument is featured in the original songs "The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota" by "Weird Al" Yankovic and "Southern Air" on album Surely You Joust by Ray Stevens .

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. January 23, 2007.
  2. ^ a b "History of Enterprise". City of Enterprise, Alabama. Archived from the original on 2013-07-03. Retrieved 2013-04-24.
  3. ^ Hunter, W.D. (28 Jan 1910). "Boll weevil". Science. 31 (787): 151–152. doi:10.1126/science.31.787.151. PMID 17744076.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Boll Weevil Monument at Wikimedia Commons