Although The Hiker is larger than life and perched on a six-foot pedestal, this Spanish-American War veterans memorial on the north lawn of Deering Oaks Park is easy to overlook.
But do look—it’s a beautiful statue.
From the soldier’s wadded and rolled sleeves to the leather satchel reminiscent of today’s messenger bag, the details are captivating.
The Hiker is sculptor Theo A.R. Kitson’s most well-known work—at least 50 copies of the statue are installed across the country.
When the USS Maine anchored in Havana Harbor exploded and sank (on this day, February 15, 1898), it became a catalyst for the conflict that would follow. Under the rallying cry “Remember the Maine,” the Spanish-American War secured Cuba’s independence from Spain and remains one of the shortest wars on record. But that’s only the beginning.
Dig a little deeper and fascinating tales of science, circumstance, and cowboys emerge. For it was during the Spanish-American War that army medical scientist Dr. Walter Reed isolated the cause and stemmed the transmission of yellow fever plaguing the troops; eager journalists and competing publishing magnates gave rise to the dirty business of yellow journalism; and Teddy Roosevelt’s volunteer militia, The Rough Riders, found glory.
It was a short war, but a war with a decidedly jaundice pallor.
From Maine to Utah to Tennessee, there are some 50 copies of The Hiker across the United States. Is there one in your town?