Monumental Mistakes in Famous Monuments in History
The Four Corners Monument
The Four Corners Monument marks the point where the states of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico meet. For a century, tourists have ventured to the spot to straddle them all at once.
Trouble is, the monument is a bit off the mark. Congress designated the meeting point of the states at a longitude of 109 degrees 03 minutes West and a latitude of 37 degrees North. But Chandler Robbins, the surveyor hired to find this coordinate in 1875, picked a spot 1,800 feet too far east, and that's where the Four Corners Monument was plopped down. Still, as the National Geodetic Survey pointed out in a statement in 2009, considering the primitive technology then available to Robbins, "he 'nailed' the location."
Despite the error, the position of the monument officially established the boundary point between the four states at that spot. As the NGS put it, "In surveying, monuments rule!"
A bronze statue of Edgar Allan Poe
A bronze statue of Edgar Allan Poe stands near the University of Baltimore School of Law in Maryland. Sculpted by Moses Ezekiel in 1916 and erected in 1921, the monument's original base (later replaced) was inscribed with a line from Poe's most famous poem, "The Raven." It read:
"Dreamng dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before."
Yes, the "i" was omitted from the first word, but that didn't bother Poe enthusiasts nearly as much as the addition of "s" to the end of the fourth.
Edmond Fontaine, a Baltimore resident and poet, took the typo personally. In 1930, after several years of regularly writing letters of complaint to local newspapers, he finally took a chisel to the statue to remove "the offending letter … for the good of my soul," he explained at the time.
Fontaine was initially arrested for chiseling off the "s" but was later released with a warning. When the statue was moved in the 1980s, the original base was replaced, and the typos corrected.
The George Washington Monument
The George Washington Monument in Mount Vernon, built from 1815 to 1829, listed the date of the president's inauguration as March 4, 1789. Washington was actually inaugurated on April 30; March 4 was the date Congress met in New York for the first time under the new Constitution.
Incredibly, no one noticed the error until 1985. That year, longtime Mount Vernon resident Phil Easter, who described himself as "the amazing memory man," spotted the error immediately upon glancing at the monument's base. He informed officials, and the inscription was soon corrected.