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Joe <em><b>Blundo</b></em>
Thursday, February 1, 2001

By Joe Blundo
Dispatch Accent Columnist

Illustration: Photo

I know a man whose quest is to document the location of every Columbus statue in the world.

So far, his Web site lists 214, including a headless Columbus, a bearded Columbus, a reincarnated Columbus and the Columbuses of Columbus, Ohio.

Peter van der Krogt has found Columbus monuments from Ireland to New Jersey. Our statues at City Hall and the Statehouse make the list, and he plans to add the one at Columbus State Community College, now that I've told him about it. (That statue tends to get overlooked. A 1999 Dispatch story on a much smaller listing of U.S. monuments to Columbus also noted its exclusion.)

Van der Krogt is a researcher and teacher at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. His interest in Columbus statues and monuments springs from his study of the history of cartography. Columbus statues often depict the explorer holding a globe, an irresistible lure to a cartographer.

"During my vacation in New England in 1998 I walked in Newport, Rhode Island, and saw there a statue for Columbus (with a globe in his hand)," van der Krogt said by e-mail. "Then I asked myself why on earth somebody would place a monument for Columbus in Newport. Columbus has never been there."

Soon, he was discovering statues in many places Columbus had never been, including Des Moines, Iowa; Hoboken, N.J.; and Malibu, Calif. Malibu Columbus was erected in 1992 at Pepperdine University to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the explorer's voyage.

The Web site was started in 1999. Van der Krogt himself has not seen all 214 monuments, and for some he has sketchy information. He also doesn't include ship replicas, so our Santa Maria isn't listed. Still, I found his information highly entertaining. Among the Columbus statues listed are:

* A rare, bearded Columbus, unveiled in St. Louis in 1886. The patron insisted on a beard even though there is no evidence that Columbus had one. The artist supposedly protested by including an obscure, engraved line stating that the facial hair was not his idea.

* The bronze monument in Bremerhaven, Germany. It was melted down to make ammunition during World War I. In the late 1960s, a museum director discovered that the original mold still existed, and the statue was recast and erected in 1978.

* An 1868 marble statue showing Columbus holding a globe above the figure of a scantily clad Indian maiden. It was removed from the U.S. Capitol in 1958 and has been in storage since at the Smithsonian Institution.

* A Columbus statue in the Philippines that lost its head when rebels shot if off during the Spanish-American War. Van der Krogt doesn't have an exact location for the statue but presumes it is still standing there, headless.

Van der Krogt thinks Columbus is honored with more monuments than any nonreligious figure other than Vladimir Lenin. He's also aware that, like Lenin, Columbus is a symbol of controversy. Van der Krogt declined to discuss his own feelings about Columbus except to say that he doesn't want his Web site used as a locator service for vandals.

"Therefore I don't give the exact street addresses anymore."

Even with Columbus a figure of decidedly mixed reputation, monuments to him continue to rise. The most recent van der Krogt lists was in October in Nutley, N.J. He was there for the unveiling.

A road-tested idea

My Jan. 25 column on teen-age drivers prompted Jonna Anderson of Hilliard to write with an interesting idea:

"For my daugher's 16th birthday, I made her some signs to place in the windows of my car that say Student Driver. . . . I noticed that only the professional drivers training companies have Student Driver signs. I feel so much more comfortable training her knowing that the other motorists know she is in training. I would like to see the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles include these yellow signs in the permit testing packets they give to new drivers."

Joe Blundo is an Accent columnist.

File photo
The Christopher Columbus statue at Columbus State Community College

All content herein is 2001 The Columbus Dispatch and may not be republished without permission.