FARGO — Lady Liberty has been abducted.
The Statue of Liberty replica that stood on a pedestal on the Fargo side of the Veterans Memorial Bridge has gone missing, city officials said Friday, July 26.
Crews working on nearby Main Avenue construction noticed the statue was missing Monday morning, according to city of Fargo engineer Nathan Boerboom, who said footage from a camera on the Lashkowitz High Rise pointing at the site of the statue shows it disappeared sometime between midnight and 1 a.m. Sunday, July 21.
Boerboom said Main Avenue was open around the time the statue went missing, so a thief or group of thieves would have easily been able to drive up to the site of the statue on the corner of Main Avenue and Second Street South next to the bridge entrance.
It is specifically mentioned in Main Avenue construction plans that workers were not supposed to move the statue, Boerboom said.
Mayor Tim Mahoney said the city won't ask questions or push for charges against possible thieves if the statue is returned to the original site within a week.
A plaque on the statue's pedestal says it was erected by the Fargo Lion's Club in 1950 and dedicated to the citizens of Fargo, according to Digital Horizons, a collaborative archive maintained by Fargo-Moorhead area universities and North Dakota historians.
Archives from The Forum reveal the 8-foot replica's long history of vandalism.
In June 1950, the bronze statue was presented to the Fargo Boy Scouts and the city by the Fargo Lions Club with plans to erect it permanently in Island Park.
Though the location changed over the years, there was a dedication ceremony in the park in June 1952. It was reported then that the statue was 1/19th of the size of the original in New York harbor.
Then, twenty years later, the right arm and torch broke in 1971. Vandals were to blame. It wasn't until 1984 that a man admitted to throwing the arm in the trash near the former Agassiz Junior High School.
For years the statue sat face down in a maintenance shop until it was refurbished and unveiled again in 1987 — this time on a pedestal near the Main Avenue bridge.
"The statue was pummeled by vandals. The rays of its crown were broken by climbers. It's finger nails were painted a gaudy red. The torch-bearing arm was broke off and a portion lost forever," a June 30, 1987, article read, adding that floodlights and a more prominent location at the foot of the bridge would deter future vandals.
But that wasn't the case.
Vandals splattered white paint over her head and shoulders in June 1991, prompting outcry from the community and a $500 reward for information leading to arrest, though there are no reports of related criminal charges.
The statue was temporarily removed for repairs. Its absence then "generated more calls than anything I can think of," said Roger Gress, former Fargo Park District facilities coordinator.
In December 1993, the tines of her crown were bent out of place. At the time, a Fargo Park District official said the statue was vandalized three times a year.
Though there hasn't been any recent reports of vandalism or removal of the statue until now, a Virgin Mary statue was found decapitated in south Fargo last August.