Did You Know? - Madonna of the Trail Statues


This week is another installment of "Did You Know?" Today we are reporting on Madonna of the Trail, the statue I'm sure many of you have noticed on Euclid and Foothill. But perhaps you are not aware of the history and meaning of the statue.

The statue you see in Upland is actually just 1 of 12. The other 11 are placed in each state, part of the National Old Trails Road from Bethesda, Maryland to Upland, California. (Today much of the National Old Trails Road is US Highway 40 and US Highway 66.) The map below shows the trail.

This next map shows where each of the 12 Madonna statues are placed.

The statues were made to recognize the pioneer woman and mothers who came with their husbands with strength, courage, and love. It was commissioned by the National Society of the Daughters of American Revolution (NSDAR) in the late 1920's. The statue was reportedly designed in just 3 days by August Leimbach in 1927. The statues were made with a mixture of crushed marble, Missouri granite, stone, cement and lead ore. They are 18 feet tall and weigh 5 tons.

Here is what August Leimbach had to say about the statues: "The idea I had when I modeled the design was waiting for the father at the blockhouse in the wild west, for the father did not come home as he had promised. She, believing him to be in danger, put her little child in a blanket, grasped the gun, and with the boy ran out in the field to look for the father. The gun is sketched from the gun of Daniel Boone, with his carvings on the shaft. On the ground is prairie grass and cactus brushes, also arrowheads, and on one side in the shadows, there is visible in the original, a rattle snake partly covered by grass."

A little bit of information on the Upland Statue: It was dedicated on February 1, 1929, unveiled by Mrs. Caroline Emily Cook, as she was the first woman who came to California on the Old National Trail by wagon train in 1850. There was a parade and pageant held, and a plane flew over to drop flowers on the parade. 6,000 people attended the event, despite the rainy conditions that day.