Boll Weevil Monument
Posted by: GA Cacher
N 31° 18.868 W 085° 51.240
16R E 609046 N 3465020
Quick Description: On December 11, 1919, the citizens of Enterprise, Alabama erected a monument to the boll weevil, the pest that devastated their fields but forced residents to end their dependence on cotton and to pursue mixed farming and manufacturing. A beetle measuring an average length of six millimeters, the insect entered the United States via Mexico in the 1890s and reached southeastern Alabama in 1915. It remains the most destructive cotton pest in North America.
Location: Alabama, United States
Date Posted: 5/21/2008 4:44:46 AM
Waymark Code: WM3VDT
The citizens of Enterprise, Alabama erected a monument to the boll weevil. It was, and still is, the only monument to an agricultural pest.
The boll weevil (Anthonomus grandis) was indigenous to Mexico but appeared in Alabama in 1915. By 1918 farmers were losing whole cotton crops to the beetle. H. M. Sessions saw this as an opportunity to convert the area to peanut farming. In 1916 he convinced C. W. Baston, an indebted farmer, to back his venture. The first crop paid off their debts and was bought by farmers seeking to change to peanut farming. Cotton was grown again, but farmers learned to diversify their crops, a practice which brought new money to Coffee County.
Bon Fleming, a local businessman, came up with the idea to build the monument, and helped to finance the total cost. As a tribute to how something disastrous can be a catalyst to change, the monument was dedicated on December 11, 1919 at the intersection of College and Main Street, the heart of the town's business district. The original statue of a woman wearing a flowing gown, arms stretched above her head, was built in Italy for approximately $1,800, not including the fountain and boll weevil. The boll weevil was not added until thirty years later, when Luther Baker thought the Boll Weevil Monument should have a boll weevil on it. He made the boll weevil and attached it to the top of the fountain that was no longer in use. The monument stands more than thirteen feet tall.
The boll weevil, and sometimes even the entire monument, has been stolen many times through out the years and each time was found and repaired by the city of Enterprise until July 11, 1998. On that day vandals ripped the boll weevil out of the statue's hands and permanently damaged the statue. City leaders were going to repair the original statue and put it back but it proved too difficult and costly. The replica still stands in downtown Enterprise, and the original is on display at Enterprise's Depot Museum. There is a security camera nearby that monitors for further vandalism.