The Chicago Monument (Mile Marker No. 24, east coast).
Crude stone structure on a narrow piece of land between the ocean and the bay, with a marble plaque with inscription and a marble globe.
ON THIS SPOT
FIRST SET FOOT ON
THE SOIL OF
THE NEW WORLD.
THE CHICAGO HERALD
JUNE 15, 1891.
The Chicago Tribune put up the first monument in 1891.
With the four-hundredth anniversary of Columbus's landing fast
approaching, two reporters, Walter Wellman and Charles Lederer
decided the historic event should no longer remain unmarked.
They chartered a schooner, loaded aboard 30 barrels of cement
and, with three volunteers from the newspaper, sailed for
Watling's Island. On the point of land closest to the Old World,
at Crab Cay, they erected an edifice resembling a fireplace made
of native stone interspersed with slabs of colored Italian
marble. They centered it with a white marble orb and an
inscribed plaque, then photographed it and left. Since then, for
over 100 years, successions of tourists, who walk the East Beach
and push their way through the heavy bush to the top of the
point, gaze at these words.
Looking out to sea from this isolated monument, high above
the water, they can see the treacherous reefs close to shore;
smudged, brown shapes that seem to move as the dark-blue
Atlantic's heavy ground swell surges back and forth. On a windy
day the tourists will see that the offshore reef is marked by a
white line of breakers, stretching down the island's east coast.
The Carolina settlers named this Snow Bay because of the way the
clouds of spray, tossed up by the surf, looked in the sunlight.
Today, as then, 40-foot pillars of coral rise from the sandy
bottom. Even at high tide the ragged caps of staghorn and
elkhorn coral are only a few feet below the surface--hardly a
landing site for an organized expedition with an extended logis-
Sources & Information
- Text: L. Anthony Leicester,"Columbus's First Landfall", Sea Frontiers (Sept-Oct 1980).
- Photos: Sid Hosler, Lancaster, Pennsylvania USA, taken on April 4, 2003.
- Néstor Ponce de León, The Columbus Gallery (New York, 1893), p. 95.
- J.M. Dickey, Christopher Columbus and his Monument Columbia (1892), pp. 311-312.
Location N 24°3'51" W 74°25'58"
Item Code: bs004;
Added: 10 December 2006
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