Statue of Liberty Replica – Harlan, Kansas - Atlas Obscura

Statue of Liberty Replica

Harlan, Kansas

This roadside prairie Statue of Liberty replica is one of the foremost examples of the Boy Scouts of America's "Strengthen the Arm of Liberty" campaign. 


If America is truly the Land of Liberty, then one of the best demonstrations of that virtue can be found in a roadside park along a barren stretch of Highway 281 near the town of Harlan, Kansas. Here, a miniature version of the Statue of Liberty, rising nearly 8 ½ feet tall, stands proudly over a windswept prairie, with little else in sight.

For those who are ready to rush to one of the nation’s most remote locations to see Lady Liberty, there is an important caveat: this replica Statue of Liberty has sisters–more than 100, in fact. These Statues of Liberty may be found all across the United States, the result of a campaign led by the Boy Scouts of America.

The crusade to bring the Statue of Liberty to every American town began in 1949, the brainchild of Jack Whitaker, a Kansas City, Missouri, manufacturer and commissioner of the Boy Scouts’ Kansas City Area Council. The Scouts were about to celebrate their 40th anniversary, and Whitaker was looking for a way to respond to the theme, “Strengthen the Arm of Liberty.” His feeling, shared by many, was that Americans needed a reminder that freedom comes with vigilance. In the pitch for the campaign, the Boy Scouts noted that while millions have seen the Statue of Liberty, “few are familiar with it.”

Whitaker then set about to mass produce that familiarity at the cost of $300-$350 per statue. More than 200 statues were produced between 1949 and 1951 by Chicago’s Friedley-Voshardt Co., and the statues were sent to communities in 39 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Canal Zone, and the Philippines. The statues each stand 8 feet and 4 inches tall, and were placed in places of prominence all across the country, to the eventual objection of the National Sculpture Society, who proclaimed them “bad imitations of the great piece of sculpture which is the symbol of our freedom.”

While many of the Whitaker statues have been lost to history, more than a hundred are still standing, and statues can be found from Fall River to Fargo, and Schenectady to Seattle. However, these mini statues are especially prevalent in Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas. Kansas was the epicenter of Libertymania, and 27 ‘Strengthen the Arm of Liberty’ replicas still remain across the state (not counting other later replicas that were inspired by the campaign).

So if mini Statues of Liberty can be found across the country and throughout Kansas, then why consider the trek to Harlan? As is always true in matters of Statue of Liberty real estate, the answer is location. While the other statues are found in parks, near courthouses, and even near Kansas’s capitol building in Topeka, the Harlan statue stands alone in a field. It has a unique dedicated space created for it next to a roadside, perched atop the modest Harlan Hill like a prairie Cristo Redentor. This Statue of Liberty, which was donated in 1951 by a Harlan-based grain elevator operator, overlooks the Solomon River Valley below, and the views are surprisingly spectacular considering Kansas’s propensity for flatness. The eerie quiet will surely help you contemplate the meaning of freedom and liberty.

Know Before You Go

The Statue of Liberty Replica is located near the junction of Highway 281 and KS-9, between Harlan and Gaylord, Kansas. The entrance to the site is located at the intersection of Highway 281 and 270th Road on the southbound lane. The statue is free and open to the public. 

Kansas Statue of Liberty completists can also browse a full list of extant monuments.

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