Relic Contraption from the USS Maine
Relic from the Battleship Maine? Say no more. Pack my trunk, Jeeves!
There's something about salvaged scraps from the USS Maine that compel us to drop everything, climb in a jalopy and go on a pilgrimage. After the 1898 explosion that sunk her, the American battleship spent over a decade on the bottom of Cuba's Havana Harbor. The US tidied up after the Spanish-American War by eventually raising and salvaging the ship's remains. While most went to the scrapyard, iconic elements -- the flag mast, an anchor, a ventilation cowl -- were shipped to deserving American towns for monuments to the war. The silliest memorial, the Bathtub of the USS Maine, even found an appreciative civic home.
At some point, though, recognizable pieces of the ship were all spoken for. Hence this minor, incomprehensible contraption, labeled as a "Relic from the Battleship Maine." It sits among veteran graves in Sacramento's City Cemetery. The worn and rusting mechanism includes a gear, a big spring, and some angled iron. There's possibly a grizzled Maine-ophile out there who knows exactly what it is, but that might spoil its cryptic charm.
A tablet cast from metal recovered from the ship is embedded in the stone that supports the Relic. The tablet reads: "In Memoriam - USS Maine. Destroyed in Havana Harbor, February 15th 1898."