Note: This is a story from my book Highway History And Back Road Mystery, available in print and e-book format from Amazon.
Located on the banks of the Ohio River, Tell City, Indiana is a pleasant little community of wide streets, modest homes with well trimmed lawns, and friendly small businesses.
The city’s downtown area is anchored by a handsome courthouse, with several monuments to area veterans. Standing atop a dry fountain in front of the courthouse is a life-size statue of Swiss folk hero William Tell, the archer who was challenged to shoot an apple off his own son’s head by a tyrannical king. The statue is a tribute to Tell City’s Swiss heritage and the hero the community was named after.
The story behind the statue is quite interesting. Back in 1974, local benefactor Austin Corbin commissioned the statue to commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the town’s founding.
Evansville, Indiana sculptor Don Ingle formed the statue of William Tell and his son, and the work was then shipped to a foundry in New York to be cast in bronze. When the call came that the work was completed, Ingle and his wife traveled to New York in a rented U-Haul van to pick up the 500 pound statue. The trip would prove to be eventful.
After spending the night in a motel in Ohio on the return trip, the sculptor and his wife were horrified the next morning to discover that while they were sleeping, someone had stolen the van, with the statue inside it! With the statue’s dedication scheduled for their arrival in Tell City, the statue must be found, and fast!
Frantic calls to the local police launched a massive manhunt (statue hunt?). Even the Federal Bureau of Investigation got into the act, and newspapers and broadcast news from coast to coast carried the story of the missing statue.
So how do you hide a 500 pound statue, anyway? Apparently the thief didn’t know either, or maybe the heat was just too much to take. At any rate, he abandoned the van on a quiet side street in Cleveland, where a vigilant citizen discovered it, with William Tell inside. The recovered work of art continued on its trip to its new home, and today the statue of William Tell vigilantly stands guard over the courthouse lawn, one hand placed lovingly on his son’s shoulder, the other carrying his crossbow over his shoulder. The folk hero appears none the worse for his unscheduled abduction, and ever since its installation at the courthouse, it has been a local landmark.
You will find the William Tell statue on the south side of Tell City’s courthouse, overlooking the river and Main Street. Tell City is located on Indiana State Route 66, the Ohio River Scenic Byway, about halfway between Evansville and Louisville, Kentucky.
It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Caddo Cold, the seventh book in my friend George Wier’s popular Bill Travis mystery series. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.
Thought For The Day – Tranquilizers work only if you follow the advice on the bottle – keep away from children. – Phyllis Diller