MADONNA OF THE TRAIL
Madonna of the Trail is located along Route 40 in Snyder Park, Springfield, OH.
The monument originally stood about .25 miles west of the present site on the grounds of the Masonic home. When a highway interchange for U.S. Routes 40 & 68 was built in 1956-57, the monument was moved to its current location.
This monument was dedicated on July 4, 1928. The keynote speaker was Judge Harry S. Truman, President of the National Old Trails Association. The Springfield monument was the first of the twelve monuments to be dedicated.
The idea of marking a highway was begun in Missouri about 1909 by a group of women who formed a committee to locate the Old Santa Fe Trail in Missouri. This committee was influential in securing an appropriation from the State of Missouri to mark the trail with suitable boulders or monuments.
This idea further developed into plans for a highway to be designated as the National Old Trails Road, by Act of Congress, and the work of marking was carried on in conjunction with the National Old Trails Road Association.
In 1911, the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution established a national committee known as the National Old Trails Road Committee whose work was, primarily, to definitely establish the Old Trails Road as a great National Memorial Highway.
In 1912, the National Old Trails Road Association came into being and stated in its bylaws that, "the object of the Association shall be to assist the Daughters of the American Revolution in marking Old Trails and to promote the construction of an Ocean-to-Ocean Highway of modern type worthy of its memorial character." The Association, under the presidency of Harry S. Truman, guaranteed the expense of the erection of the monuments.
In 1924, the plan was changed from a proposed small cast iron marker on the Trails to that of erecting 12 large markers. In 1927, the Daughters of the American Revolution Continental Congress accepted the design--The Madonna of the Trail.
The Madonna of the Trail is a pioneer woman clasping her baby with her young son clinging to her skirts. The face of the mother, strong in character, beauty and gentleness, is the face of a mother who realizes her responsibilities and trusts in God. It has a feeling of solidarity--a monument which will stand through the ages.
The figure of the mother is of heroic proportions ... 10 feet high with a weight of 5 tons. The base upon which the figure stands is 6 feet high and weighs 12 tons. This, in turn, rests upon a foundation that is placed on the ground, standing 2 feet above the level which makes the monument 18 feet above the ground.
The figure and the base are made of algonite stone (a poured mass) of which the Missouri granite is used as the main aggregate, thus giving the monument a warm, pink shade which is the color of the Missouri native granite. It was thought and expected that this stone had admirable aging qualities and, with time, would improve in color and solidarity.
This monument has the distinction of being the only Madonna not on the old National Old Trails Highway. The Madonna's were to be placed on the shoulders of the National Old Trails Highway. In Springfield, that highway swung away from the National Road (Route 40) a few blocks to the east (on Dayton Avenue) and followed the so-called Dayton Cutoff. When the Madonna sat in its original location, it was about 15 blocks away from the highway where it was supposed to reside; today it sits about ten blocks away. On the map below, the dotted line shows the path of the National Old Trails Highway, the light red line shows the path of the original National Road.
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Updated January 8th, 2006