There’s only one town I ever heard of that erected a monument to an insect, and I’d probably never have heard of it if I hadn’t been talking to somebody who passed through Enterprise, Alabama.
Enterprise, you see, is a town that understands and appreciates the value of beneficial change. Indeed, it understands these things so well that it put up a statue to a beetle.
The boll weevil attacks cotton plants, and appeared in the United States at the end of the 19th century. You’d imagine that the last thing any Alabama farmers would welcome is a little insect that destroys their cash crop, but you couldn’t be further from the truth. These guys understood immediately that cotton was dead, so they started growing peanuts, and guess what? The peanuts made them a fortune.
What did they do? They had a statue constructed in Italy, at a cost of €1,800 comprising a female figure, and they duly erected the Boll Weevil Monument in the middle of the city. It was Bon Fleming’s idea, apparently, a local businessman. He helped to pay for the thing, and they put it up at the corner of College and Main Street in December 1919, where it remained for thirty years until Luther Baker decided that it should have an actual boll weevil as part of the tableau. Luther made the boll weevil and mounted it on the statue.
I did not make this up.
Tragically, the boll weevil has often been stolen, as has the entire statue, but things came to a head in 1998 when anti-beetle vandals ripped the weevil out of the statue’s hands, causing permanent damage. The city leaders decided that it would be too expensive to repair the statue once again, and so they decided to replace the original boll weevil with a plastic replica. This is the weevil that the female figure now holds aloft.