BEALLSVILLE – A rock star of another sort, also named Madonna, has been dressed up in time for a milestone birthday.
The stone monument known as Madonna of the Trail is about to turn 85-years-old along historic Route 40 in Beallsville, and it has been scrubbed, repaired and given new landscaping in time for the celebration, said Deborah Davis, past state regent of the Daughters of the American Revolution, which commissioned the statues for what also is called the National Road.
“She’s in fairly good shape,” Davis said. “We love our statues.”
The Madonnas, a dozen in all along the road, including one in Wheeling, W.Va., began as a project of the National Old Trails Association in 1912 when it was headed by President Harry S. Truman as a way to mark the nation’s first interstate, dating to 1811. The DAR decided to get involved and eventually spent $12,000 on the statues, said Davis.
The DAR commissioned German-American sculptor August Leimbach of St. Louis to create the 10-foot warm pink statues, using a poured crushed stone mixture and Missouri granite as the chief aggregate. The 5-ton monuments feature a pioneer woman carrying a rifle in one arm and a baby in the other, with a young son at her feet clutching her dress.
Time began to take its toll on the one in Beallsville, prompting the DAR to seek restorations, said Brandon Hudock of the HotHouse Floral Co. in North Strabane Township. He was hired to create a new landscaping design for the monument, which is near the entrance to Nemacolin Country Club.
“It still looks pretty good,” Hudock said.
The DAR invested nearly $10,000 over the past three years on the project, which included the addition of a new cast-iron railing on the stairs leading from the road to the statue, Davis said.
The monuments, she said, pay tribute to the courage and faith of pioneer women who played an important role in the settlement of the frontier.
The one in Beallsville was dedicated Dec. 8, 1928. The DAR is expected to hold an event celebrating the anniversary.