The Hiker, Spanish War Memorial

The Hiker is a Spanish War Memorial statue in Deering Oaks Park, designed in 1906 by Theo Alice Ruggles Kitson and placed in the Oaks in May 1924, likely by the United States War Veterans (USWV).  The statue commemorates the American soldiers who fought in the Spanish-American War, the Boxer Rebellion and the Filipino-American War. The first version of it was made for the University of Minnesota in 1906, but at least 50 copies were made after the Gorham Manufacturing Company of Providence, Rhode Island bought the rights to the sculpture in 1921 The Hiker depicts a soldier standing in the battlefield.

When she created The Hiker, Kitson already had a reputation for sculpting war memorial statues. Her work was very popular because of its realism and historical accuracy.  For the title of the sculpture, Kitson used the term that American soldiers in both the Spanish-American War and the Philippine-American War gave themselves: “hikers.” Leonard Sefing, Jr., a Spanish-American War veteran from Allentown, Pennsylvania, was selected as the model from a photograph of him entered in a national contest.

Due to the wide distribution of the statues, they have recently been used to study air pollution over the last century.  The statues are attractive corrosion monitors because of their fixed geometry, reasonably consistent alloy chemistry, and long period of exposure.