Where in the Valley: Fabled Fountain

Where in the Hudson Valley...? This gushing gent greets the locals in the village center. Do you know where this statue stands?



Where in the Hudson Valley...?

This copper boy is part of a fountain that stands in a small Valley town nestled between two mountain ranges. His footwear has seen better days: while one hand rests jauntily in his pocket, the other holds up a shabby, water-spouting shoe. This perturbed young chap has become a local legend with matching folklore credentials to boot (pardon the pun). Who is he? Where did he come from? Why is he here? And isn’t there a cobbler in the house?

In fact, there is a whole troop of boot-boy brethren out there. From Helena, Montana to Stockholm, Sweden, there are scores of similar fountains all over the world. The first design was produced in Europe; in the 1800s, the J. L. Mott Iron Works company in New York began manufacturing the statue — known as the “Boy with the Leaking Boot” — in this country.

As it happens, the town in question has not just one, but three of these legendary lads. The newest is pictured above; a replica crafted in 1997 by a local sculptor using a wax cast of the weatherworn third statue (which was purchased circa 1908 by town resident Henry Brodhead, an Iron Works employee; it now lies quietly in storage).

The origin of the boy’s barefooted pose remains a mystery. Some people guess that perhaps he was an innocent bystander of a Civil War battle, bringing soldiers water from a nearby stream. Or, maybe he was a popular town newsboy who went fishing and ultimately met a watery demise. Another tale postulates that, as a member of a bucket brigade, he took a moment to empty the water from his shoes after a fire.

Today, the figure is the logo of a local newspaper; at one time, it was proposed that it be used as the local high school’s mascot.

Do you think you know where this soggy statue stands? Write your answer as a comment in the box below. The first reader with the correct response wins a prize. Good luck!

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