A story in the Tulsa World over the weekend sent me down a rabbit hole to find more about small-but-nicely-crafted replicas of the Statue of Liberty that were installed in 200 towns across America seven decades ago.
The Tulsa newspaper noted the 8 1/2-foot-tall Statue of Liberty at 17th Street and South Harvard Avenue in Tulsa — about a half-mile south of the 11th Street alignment of Route 66 — is marking its 70th anniversary this month. It sits in a triangle of land near Lanier Elementary School.
It talked to Tulsa resident Jerry Kirkpatrick about it:
The replica was unveiled in May 1950, which means Tulsa’s Lady Liberty is 70.
Kirkpatrick knows of eight or nine guys who are still around from the group effort that led to a replica statue springing up at the school. “It’s just kind of fun to give them a call and say, ‘Guess what we did 70 years ago?’ and remind them of that,” he said.
Kirkpatrick isn’t seeking attention for himself or those responsible. He just wants to raise awareness about, as he said before, one of Tulsa’s hidden gems. Maybe if more people knew about the statue’s existence, Route 66 travelers might be tempted to travel a flew blocks from the Mother Road and pay the statue and the Golden Driller a visit.
It turns out the Statue of Liberty replicas were part of Boy Scouts of America’s “Strengthen the Arm of Liberty” campaign during the organization’s 40th anniversary. It was in the midst of the Cold War.
For whatever reason, Kansas and Missouri seemed to have most of those statues.
In Tulsa, local Boy Scouts and other organizations raised the $612 needed for the project, including the stone base.
It was unveiled on May 7, 1950. It and the other replicas were made of copper sheet and weighed about 290 pounds each.
The deteriorating statue in Tulsa was restored in 1995 with a $5,000 grant from Bama Pie, a mainstay along Route 66 in the city.
A Boy Scout troop in Wyoming accounted for about 100 of the surviving statues, and Wikipedia added another 50 or so over the years.
Here are the Statue of Liberty replicas in Route 66 towns with Google Maps links to each one:
- Springfield, Missouri, in front of Greene County Historic Courthouse (map here)
- Miami, Oklahoma, Ottawa County Courthouse (map here)
- Tulsa, at 17th Street and South Harvard Avenue (map here)
- Edmond, Oklahoma, at Second Street and South Boulevard (map here)
- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County Courthouse, 200 block of North Hudson Avenue (map here)
The statues are old enough that they are eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Properties or landmarks usually get strong consideration after 50 years.
The original, 151-foot-tall Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor was erected in 1886 but remains closed to the public because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
That’s all the more reason to check out the smaller versions near the Mother Road — they have no such restrictions to view them.
(Excerpt of Google Street View image of a Statue of Liberty replica in Tulsa)