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Cannon Installed In Time for Fourth of July Festivities
Monday, July 3, 2006
The Public Works Department, under the supervision of Public Works Director Bruce Inman, got Sierra Madre's recently restored World War I cannon re-installed at the entrance to Memorial Park in time for the Fourth of July festivities. Fire Marshal Richard Snyder and Jay Whitcraft, two of the folks who spearheaded the effort to restore the cannon were also on hand to observe, as was Mayor John Buchanan. Below you'll find a series of pictures of the re-placement. To read a little of the background of the cannon, and the effort to restore it, click here.
By Bill Coburn
You may have noticed that some concrete in the sidewalk at the corner of Hermosa and Sierra Madre has been cut out. That’s a sign that the Memorial Park cannon restoration project is nearing completion.
The 150 mm field artillery cannon, built by the Fried Krupp A.G. Corporation of Essen, Germany in the year 1905, was badly in need of restoration, and has been undergoing a series of repairs. Used by the German military in World War I, the cannon was one of many pieces of German weaponry confiscated and divided among the allies at the end of the war. Just 10 lbs. shy of a ton, the cannon was placed in Memorial Park in 1926, after having been acquired from the War Department by Major Charles S. Floy, Legion Commander.
During World War II, there was an iron shortage, and the cannon was nearly melted to help aid the new war effort. The American Legion had its offer turned down, however, and the cannon stayed in the park.
Since being located in Memorial Park, the cannon has been fired at least twice by local pranksters. There was some damage to the Old North Church when a rock was fired from its barrel.
Another incident took place in 1955, when blast powder and wick bought from Arnold's Hardware was used to fire off an 8 lb. shotput by a young prankster. At the time, there was a beauty parlor next to the North Church, and it suffered significant damage. Shortly thereafter, the barrel was filled with concrete, preventing any future reoccurrence of such incidents. But that didn’t stop the pranksters from having fun with the cannon.
Halloween “trickers” would roll the cannon down the street into people’s yards, until 1956, when the cannon was placed on two concrete mounts to prevent any further pranks of this nature.
A new coat of paint was applied in 1963, and in 1981, additional work was done to help restore it. The burnt-out wheels were restored by a wheelwright, and all the paint was stripped off and the cannon was re-painted.
Now 25 years later, the cannon is again undergoing a “makeover.” Years of wear and tear led to irreparable damage to the wheels, which have been replaced (by San Diego wheelwright named Teg Graber) with new identical wheels made of solid oak, and using many of the original metal parts from the old wheels. The oak has had a coat of epoxy applied to it to help stave off future damage, a new coat of paint is soon to be applied on the newly coated wheels. The gun itself has been sandblasted and received a new coat of paint as well. The rather unattractive concrete poured in the barrel in 1955 has been removed, and replaced with a concrete plug that is recessed down the barrel, creating a cleaner look.
The hole in the sidewalk is the footprint of what will be a raised platform, designed to bring the cannon to eye level, and making it a focal point for park visitors and those driving by. The platform will also serve as a seating area, so that fewer people will sit on the actual cannon itself, thus protecting the cannon from future wear and tear.
To help fund the restoration of the cannon, commemorative bricks were sold which will be placed in the area around the cannon, as was done at the nearby Veteran’s Memorial Wall.
The platform will also be a nice spot for kids, who have enjoyed playing on the cannon for generations, and who now will have a beautiful monument to the veterans of World War I to create their own wonderful memories.
Most of the information for this article was drawn from the Cannon Restoration Project Proposal, presented to the Community Services Dept. in April of 2005. Thanks to Fire Marshal Rich Snyder, Jay Whitcraft and Firefighter Mike Darrow for heading up this project. Thanks to all those who bought bricks. Special thanks to Todd Delahooke of Quality House Painting, Gary Hunter of Leader Industries, Jeff Throop of George L. Throop Co, the Sierra Madre Volunteer Firefighters Association and Sierra Madre Public Works Dept. for their contributions and participation.
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