Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Local Landmark

This photo is from the web..Mine is below. It is dark, so hopefully you can tell what she looks like

Norwegian Lady
From Wikipedia

On Good Friday, March 27, 1891, the Norwegian barque Dictator, whose home port was the coastal town of Moss, Norway, was lost in the Atlantic Ocean south of the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay off Virginia Beach, Virginia. The Dictator had a crew of 15 and the captain's family aboard.

Johanne Jørgensen, the pregnant young wife of Captain Jørgen M. Jørgensen, and their 4 year-old son Carl Zealand Jørgensen, were among those who drowned in a final escape attempt as the ship broke up

After the breakup and sinking of the Dictator, the ship's wooden female figurehead had washed ashore nearby. Spotted by a young guest, it was retrieved by the manager of the Princess Anne Hotel. He subsequently had it placed in a vertical position facing the ocean near the boardwalk as a memorial to those who lost their lives in the shipwreck. Known as the "Norwegian Lady", it was a landmark at Virginia Beach's Boardwalk at 16th street for more than 60 years as the town became incorporated in 1906 and grew to become a small city in 1923.

In the brutal coastal weather, the figurehead gradually became weathered and eroded. Then, during Hurricane Barbara in 1953, it was significantly damaged and was removed to a city-owned building for safe-keeping. Subsequently, a few years later, city officials could not locate it, speculating that it had been stolen, or destroyed by accident. Figureheads had long-since been discontinued as a feature of most ships, but the Norwegian Lady had become more than a mere ship's figurehead to the people of Virginia Beach; she was a memorial and a community icon.

As the story of the lost memorial grew in Virginia Beach, community interest spread across the ocean to Moss. A drive began at both ends to replace the memorial. With a substantial contribution of the Norwegian Shipping Association, enough funds were raised to pay for not just a replacement for Virginia Beach, but two new statues.

Norwegian sculptor Ørnulf Bast was commissioned to create two nine-foot bronze replicas of the original figurehead. The Norwegian Lady statues were unveiled on September 22, 1962. One was presented as a gift to Virginia Beach, and an exact duplicate was erected in Moss, Norway to unite the two cities. Each statue faces the other across the Atlantic Ocean.

Moss and Virginia Beach officially became sister cities in 1974. Every year on the anniversary of the wreck, the Ladies Auxiliary of the Virginia Beach Volunteer Fire Department places a wreath at the base of the statue there. On October 13, 1995, during a state visit, Her Majesty Queen Sonja of Norway visited the Norwegian Lady statue in Virginia Beach, and placed memorial flowers.

The statue in Moss receives similar honors. Virginia Beach officials have traveled to Moss, and paid similar respects to the "other" Norwegian Lady.

On the pedestal of the Virginia Beach statue, these words are inscribed:

"I am the Norwegian Lady. I stand here, as my sister before me, to wish all men of the sea safe return home."



Anonymous tipper said...

Very interesting bit of history. I love the inscription.

November 29, 2008 at 8:18 AM  

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