The Lobster and the Man.

Obscure Monument to Lobsterdom

Field review by the editors.

Washington, DC

H. Elroy Johnson made money trapping lobsters and lived in Harpswell, Maine. In 1939 he posed for a sculpture titled "The Maine Lobsterman," kneeling before his favorite crustacean while pegging its claw. The sculpture was supposed to be cast in bronze and made part of the Maine exhibit at the 1939 New York World's Fair. But Maine ran out of money, so the artist, Victor A. Kahill, just slapped a coat of bronze paint over the plaster model and shipped it to New York.

After the Fair ended, the fake bronze statue returned to Maine and spent several decades being moved from city hall to museum to museum. No one seemed to want the man and his lobster. The statue was vandalized, repaired, and ended up in a warehouse where it was eaten by rats.

It wasn't until poor H. Elroy Johnson died that a bronze cast was finally made of the statue, and eight years after that (1981) it was moved to Washington, DC, and dedicated in 1983. It was donated by the Camp Fire Girls of Cundys Harbor, Maine; reportedly cost $30,000; and overlooks the Potomac River, which has no lobsters.

A close inspection may reveal tooth marks, but we aren't promising anything.

Obscure Monument to Lobsterdom

Address:
Maine Ave., Washington, DC
Directions:
Southwest edge of downtown. On the west side of Water St., next to the water, opposite where M Place SW intersects Water St.
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