The unassuming memorial stone located in Makanda, Illinois is dedicated to a mysterious dog named Boomer who is said to have died trying to save his master while running on three legs, but what the plaque leaves out is the odd rivalry that sparked the whole incident and the bizarrely heroic reason he couldn’t run on all fours.
As the story goes, Boomer was the pet of a local fireman who worked on the Illinois railroads. Since the rail officials wouldn’t let Boomer ride the train with his master, the hound would run alongside the locomotive cars, easily keeping pace with them. Catching wind of this adorable bit of loyalty, the owners of the railroad were not pleased, since it made their trains sound slow, and apparently other rail companies were making fun of them. In order to show up the pup, the company staged a race on September 2, 1859 with Boomer and the fastest engine in their fleet. As the contest commenced, the conductor overloaded the furnace with coal and a fire broke out on the train. Seeing this, Boomer supposedly lifted his leg mid-run and attempted to put the fire out with his urine. Unfortunately this heroic bit of multi-tasking cost the dog his life when he collided full speed with a small wall, killing him instantly.
While this tale may seem a bit outlandish, it nonetheless inspired the creation of the Boomer memorial under which the dog is said to be buried. The little stone and plaque are not explicitly marked out and one would have to be looking for it to find it, but it’s worth a visit to remember such a devoted, and quick-thinking, animal.
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