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USS Maine Anchor.
Anchor from the Battleship Maine.

Anchor from the U.S.S. Maine

Field review by the editors.

Reading, Pennsylvania

It's still controversial, that explosion that sent the U.S.S. Maine to the bottom of Havana harbor in Cuba on the night of Feb. 15, 1898. It triggered the Spanish-American War. "Remember the Maine!" was long an American rallying cry, in the martyred company of Pearl Harbor, the Alamo, and 9/11 (Careful analysis by some scholars, long after the fact, concluded the disaster that did in the Maine may have been an accidental igniting of the ammunition magazine, no Cuban terrorists involved).

Following the sinking of the Maine, America was whipped into one of its patriotic frenzies, ready to spar with a sneaky, sabotaging foe. A quick war dismissed the Spanish from the region. Years later, the public still cared about the Maine, and wanted the 266 brave souls trapped in her hull recovered and given a proper burial.

Plaque for anchor.

In 1912, the United States Navy recovered remains, re-floated the Maine, towed it out to open sea, and sank it again. But first they salvaged masts, portholes, and even a fancy Captain's tea set to send home for memorials and museums across the nation.

Some towns ended up with unusual artifacts from the Maine. Naturally, we go out of our way to visit these rusting linchpins of destiny. Reading scored what we'd consider a very coveted piece -- the bow anchor from the ship, installed in Reading's City Park in August 1914. 12,000 people were on hand when future President FDR (who was then Assistant Secretary of the Navy) dedicated the anchor to the city, after quashing scurrilous rumors that the anchor was a not actually from the Maine.

The park is arrayed on a forested slope, on the way up to Reading's famous Pagoda on Mt. Penn. The anchor, propped against a stone and firmly bolted down, is adjacent to North 11th Street. Since the ship was already anchored the night of the fateful blast, one could argue that this is the only part of the Maine that wasn't sunk by Spanish perfidy.

The City Park is thick with other memorials and statues: a firefighter monument, policeman statue, and Vietnam Memorial. At one time it had a kid-sized fairy tale castle, but it was later razed, according to one Tipster: "The city cited high maintenance costs as well as its frequent use by drug dealers and the amorous." It's all now well-maintained and free of vandalism, perhaps because the park now houses a city police station with a dozen cruisers in the parking lot.

Also see: Bathtub from the U.S.S. Maine | Ventilator Cowl from the U.S.S. Maine

Anchor from the U.S.S. Maine

North 11th St., Reading, PA
On the east side of S. 11th St. between Washington and Court Sts.
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Nearby Offbeat Places

The PagodaThe Pagoda, Reading, PA - < 1 mi.
Strange FDR Sculpture on a FireplaceStrange FDR Sculpture on a Fireplace, West Wyomissing, PA - 4 mi.
Der Distelfink StatueDer Distelfink Statue, Reading, PA - 4 mi.
In the region:
Jerry's Classic Cars and Collectibles Museum, Pottsville, PA - 28 mi.

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