Skip to main content

Human Statue of Liberty


18,000 soldiers of the 163rd Depot Brigade at Camp Dodge, Iowa formed the silhouette of the Statue of Liberty for this renowned photograph shot by Chicago photographers Arthur Mole and John Thomas on August 22, 1918. Beginning at 1:00 p.m. companies were assembled and by 2:30 the proper formation was completed and the photograph taken. From the goddess’ feet to the tip of the torch the symbolical statue measured 499 yards. The picture was taken from a tower forty feet high, constructed for the occasion. On account of the mass formation and the 94 degree heat, twelve men fainted and were carried from the field.


The photograph was taken with an 11" x 14" view camera following several day’s worth of work by the photographers to set up the image on the ground using thousands of yards of white tape. In addition, substantial coordination was required to ensure the various folds of the gown, the bible, the left hand, and the crown was properly outlined by soldiers wearing white shirts. The design for the living picture was laid out on the drill ground at Camp Dodge, west of current building S 34 and Maintenance Road. The photograph was on sale for $1 at all the exchanges in the camp. Many soldiers sent the photo home to their families.

The layout at the reported 499 yards was nearly 5 times the length of the actual Statue of Liberty and the viewer will note that the correct perspective is maintained. The number of men in the various parts include: Flame of Torch – 12,000 men, Torch – 2,800, Right Arm – 1,200 men, Body, Head and balance of figure – 2,000 men.

"Human Statue of Liberty" was one of a series of group photographs taken by Mole and Thomas during and immediately after World War I at U.S. military training camps. Each took up to a week to compose and shoot using an 11" x 14" view camera perched atop an 80-foot tower. According to photography historian Louis Kaplan, these so-called "living sculptures" served as "rallying points to support American involvement in the war and to ward off isolationist tendencies."

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Tornado at Beaty Swamps

Shortly after midnight on Wednesday, May 10, 1933, Beatty Swamps, TN ( also known as Bethsaida), a small rural community located in Overton County, Tennessee, approximately 6.7 miles from Livingston, was struck by an F4 tornado that completely devastated the community. The funnel, anywhere from one-half to three-quarters of a mile wide, destroyed every home in the community, and killed or injured virtually every single resident. Much of the area was swept clean of debris. This is the second deadliest tornado ever to strike Middle Tennessee.

There have been tornadoes that have gained greater notoriety, such as the Super Outbreak of April 3, 1974, but never has a tornado affected a community as completely as the one that struck Beatty Swamps.

According to the National Weather Service, it had been a humid evening in the rural Cumberland Plateau community. In nearby Allardt, the temperature that Tuesday afternoon had climaxed at 82 degrees, a warmer-than-normal reading for early May. …

Ode To A Mule

James Arness died today. Gunsmoke was every one's favorite TV show back when I was a kid. For years, at my house, we watched every single episode that came on the TV. There's isn't any need to explain the show because I am sure that most of you have seen an episode of Gunsmoke at one time or another.

When I heard that Mr. Arness has passed away, I went online, because I wanted to read some quotes from the TV show - more specifically, I wanted to read some dialogue between Festus, played by singer Ken Curtis (Sons of the Pioneers), and the rest of the cast. Festus had a way of speaking, but he always spoke the truth and what he said always made sense, well in a Festus-sort-of way, I guess.

So, I went online to do that, and well, one click led to another click, and then another and another, and before I knew it, I found myself on YouTube, and that's when I heard, for the first time in many years, this beautiful story that I want to share with you.

If you paid close atte…

Long Live The Goat Man

(This photo was made in the 1950's as the Goat Man passed through my town)
Charles McCartney was born on July 6, 1901. In 1915, at age 14, he ran away from his family's Iowa farm. He eventually wound up in New York, and was soon married to a Spanish knife-thrower. When she got pregnant they tried to make it as farmers, but bad weather and the Great Depression wiped them out. About the same time, he experienced a religious awakening. A man on a mission, he hitched up his team of goats to a wagon and took to the open road with his wife and son. His wife made goatskin clothes for him and his son to wear as a gimmick during their travels, but she quickly grew tired of the road and returned to Iowa, taking their son with her.

Charles McCartney looked like a goat. He smelled like one, too because he rarely took a bath. You take a fellow who looks like a goat, travels around with goats, eats with goats, lies down among goats and smells like a goat and it won't be long before peop…