The Boy with the Leaking Boot

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Statue in Cleethorpes, England

The Boy with the Leaking Boot is a statue showing a young boy, with a bare right foot, holding up his right boot and looking at it. The statue is about 4 feet (1.2 m) tall, and in many cases forms a fountain, with water emerging from the toe of the boot. There are at least 24,[1] and reportedly "hundreds"[2] of examples. The origins of the statue are obscure. The boy is reported to be a young Italian newspaper seller who drowned, or an American army drummer-boy who carried water in his leaking boot to help fallen comrades,[3] or a young fire-fighter either using his boot in a bucket chain or emptying his boot after an incident,[2] or possibly none of these. The statue has also been called The Boy with the Leaky Boot,[4] Boy Immigrant and Unfortunate Boot.[5]


Original historic print on the J. L. Mott Iron Works 1925's fountain's Catalog used by Santa Clara council (Cuba) when they selected the fountain for the city's main square.
Collage. Silhouette of the Boy used as symbol of public services in Santa Clara city, Cuba

The exact origin of the "Boy with the Boot" statue/fountains has been uncertain. It appears the first statues appeared in the U.S. c.1895 and were thought to have been purchased in Europe by wealthy travelers on the "Grand European Tour". Many stories relate the statues came from Germany, but that has not been confirmed.[citation needed]

However, a connection between the statue and Germany may have more validity. Patrick Patterson of Clovis, California purchased what was purported to be the "original" bronze molds for the Boy with the Boot statue in 1998 from an antique dealer (Lamoine Abbott) of San Angelo, Texas. These molds of the Boy with the Boot statue were sold to the Texas dealer by "Midwest Exchange, Inc." of Shawnee, Wisconsin in 1981. Midwest Exchange Inc. related the molds came from a Mr. Henry Braun, of Cincinnati, Ohio. Mr. Braun was believed to have emigrated from Germany in the 1920s and may have brought these molds with him. Interestingly, it was stated Henry Braun was an "uncle" of Eva Braun.[citation needed]

The bronze molds are probably the "original" molds because the "original" statues were cast in "white metal" (zinc) by a process of "slurry casting"...a process quite different from lost wax casting methods.[citation needed]

Statues in the United States[edit]

Among the earliest statues is that in Sandusky, Ohio, where it stood in front of the Porter House hotel on the shore of Lake Erie. The original zinc statue was brought from Germany in 1876 by a prominent local couple, Mr and Mrs Voltaire Scott. After cyclone damage and several incidences of vandalism, the statue was moved to the lobby of the local City Hall, and a replacement bronze was installed in a fountain in Washington Park.[1]

In Helena, Montana, a statue stood in front of the "Natatorium", built in 1889 and housing the then-largest indoor plunge pool in the world, as part of the Broadwater Hotel complex. The statue is now in the former First National Bank Building on Last Chance Gulch in the town.[6][7]

One of the statues was erected in Courthouse Park in Fresno, California in 1895. It was a drinking fountain, funded by public subscription organised by Sergeant Nichols of the Salvation Army. Tin cups hung from the statue, and the pipes were cooled by blocks of ice. The statue was purchased from the J. L. Mott Iron Works of New York. The statue was moved, vandalised and repaired on various occasions, recast in bronze in 1947, and again recast in 1995. It is currently in the Fresno County Plaza on Tulare Street.[8]

The statue erected in 1895 in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, had a similarly chequered existence, being damaged by a horse-drawn vehicle in 1910 and thereafter cared for by the local fire department, outside whose station he stood with various incidents of damage and restoration including being decapitated in 1998 (the head was handed in to the police three days later). A concrete casting of the statue was made and erected in 2009. The original statue, restored, was in 2010 still in the possession of the fire department and it was reported that "An idea which seems to be gathering support is to install him in a glass case inside Fire Station #1."[9] A statue of the boy highlights a fountain on Main Street and School Street in Wallingford, Vermont, United States, and has been a centerpiece in the town since 1898.[1]

There have been five statues in five different locations in New Orleans since 1898 when the first was erected at the Milliken Children's Hospital of Charity. The boot, all that remained after this statue was vandalised in 1961, is reported to grace the present day hospital administrator's desk. The latest statue stands in a pool at the Children's Hospital.[10]

The village of Ellenville claims to have three of these statues: a 1997 model in the village's Liberty Square, a statue purchased in 1925 now in the Public Library, and one presumed to date from before 1908 and currently awaiting restoration. This last statue was made by J. L. Mott Iron Works and was erected on the lawn of the house then occupied by Henry Brodhead, who was paymaster for the Mott Iron Works until the company moved from New York to Trenton, New Jersey in 1908. It was used by sculptor Matt Pozorski when creating the 1997 version.[5] The statue is described as "an important icon of Ellenville".[2]

A statue was erected at High Point Mansion, Hershey, Pennsylvania, then the home of Milton S. Hershey and his wife Catherine, to replace a more energetic fountain which displeased Mrs Hershey by spraying her favourite sitting place when there was a gust of wind. It is now in the Hershey Gardens. As Mrs Hershey died in 1915 this statue must be from that year or earlier.[11]

In Penrose, Colorado, a bronze statue was erected in 1915, presented to the town by Spencer and Julie Penrose. After the common tale of kidnappings and damage, it was presented to Penrose School in 2005 and is kept there in a display case. It is the property of the Senior Citizens of Penrose.[12]

A well maintained statue with eight working drinking fountains can be seen in Houlton, Maine, in Pierce Park. It was purchased in 1916 after Mrs Clara P. Frisbie left the city $1000 to beautify the park.[13] The statue is featured in the flash introduction of the city website home page.[14]

A statue stood in City Hall Park in El Paso, Texas for 50 years before being moved to San Jacinto Plaza, in the 1950s. There it was protected by a moat containing alligators. In 1995 it was in El Paso City Hall.[15]

A statue was acquired by Baker County, Oregon about 1908 when the county courthouse was built. The "boy" was the center of the fountain in front of the courthouse where he stood with his leaking boot as four lion heads spewed water toward him from the four corners of the fountain. After several repairs due to vandalism he was brought inside the courthouse and finally encased 9 June 1975.

Further statues have been reported to exist in the United States at Salida, Colorado (at the Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center), and Council Bluffs, Iowa

Statues in Canada[edit]

A statue in Assiniboine Park, Winnipeg, Manitoba, was originally donated to the city by the Young Peoples' Christian Endeavour Society and the Trades and Labour Council in honour of Queen Victoria's golden jubilee in 1897. It formed part of a fountain outside the old city hall, and was moved to the park in 1953 with funding from Order of Rotary International Fellowship.[3][16]

Another is in Toronto[citation needed].

Statues in the United Kingdom[edit]

Another statue was given to the town of Cleethorpes, North East Lincolnshire, in 1918 by John Carlbom[17][18] or Calborn.[19] It is reported that he was a Swedish immigrant to Cleethorpes who had built up a successful shipping business and was the Swedish Vice-Consul,[16] and that the statue was a copy of one in the Hasselbacken Restaurant in Stockholm, Sweden.[3] The Cleethorpes statue now stands in a pond in the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Gardens, on Kingsway. It was stolen and replaced in 2002 and 2008, and vandalised in October 2011. In July 2012, two youths were recorded on CCTV as they frolicked naked in the pond and destroyed the fountain.[20] A replacement statue was made by a local garden ornaments manufacturer and installed with improved security in September 2012.[21] A nearby pub was named The Leaking Boot, but was destroyed by fire in June 2009.[22]

Statues in Cuba[edit]

In 1925 a statue was erected in Cuba in the Parque Vidal of Santa Clara, bought from J. L. Mott of New York by Colonel Francisco López Leiva.[23] where it has become a city symbol.[24] It is known as the Boy with the Unfortunate Boot. At some point it was damaged, and it was replaced in 1970 by a bronze statue. It has been described as "one of the symbols of this city".[25]

Statues in other locations[edit]

Copies of the statue are also located in Stockholm[citation needed] and Svappavaara,[citation needed] Sweden and Caracas,[citation needed] Venezuela.


Mary'n B. Rosson (died 14 November 2002[3]) wrote an article in True West Magazine about the restoration of the El Paso statue. "Letters about Boys in other cities poured in, loaded with Boy information", and she "felt compelled" to write a book about the statue: The Mystery of the Boy With Leaking Boot.[26] It was published in 1997 by The Record-Courier of Baker City, Oregon.[27]


  1. ^ a b c "The boy and the Boot". Retrieved 9 July 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c Rubin, Brian (November 2009). "That Mysterious Boy with the Boot". Shawangunk Mountain Guide. Retrieved 6 May 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Leaking Boot". Archived from the original on 12 May 2008. Retrieved 9 July 2009. 
  4. ^ Carney, Jim (16 February 2014). "Boy with the Leaky Boot to return to Wadsworth for city's bicentennial". Retrieved 13 August 2015. 
  5. ^ a b Dumond, Marion M. (December 2002). "The Boy with the Boot" (PDF). pp. 18–19. Retrieved 15 July 2009. 
  6. ^ "The Broadwater today". The Hotel Broadwater and natatorium. Retrieved 15 July 2009.  – includes images c.1890 and recent
  7. ^ "The Natatorium". The Broadwater Hotel and natatorium. Retrieved 15 July 2009. 
  8. ^ Rehart, Catherine Morison (1996). "The Boy with the Leaking Boot". The Valley's Legends & Legacies. Quill Driver Books. p. 28. ISBN 978-1-884995-12-5. 
  9. ^ Menzel, Dan (15 March 2010). "Fire Department Boy with the Boot Statue". City of Stevens Point:, Wisconsin. Retrieved 26 August 2010. 
  10. ^ Stall, Buddy; Stall, Gaspar (1990). "Statuary: Unfortunate Boot". Buddy Stall's New Orleans. Pelican Publishing. pp. 145–147. Retrieved 24 August 2010. 
  11. ^ "Highpoint Mansion". Hershey Community Archive. Retrieved 9 July 2009. 
  12. ^ "The Boy With the Boot". Penrose Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved 24 August 2010. 
  13. ^ Clark, Michael. "Houlton's "Boy and the Boot" statue". Geocaching: Boy and the Boot (Rotary 1).  (Substantial history of the statue provided as background on geocaching site)
  14. ^ "home page". Houlton Maine. Retrieved 23 August 2010. 
  15. ^ Gavilanes, Elizabeth (1995). "San Jacinto Plaza Remains Heart of Downtown El Paso". Borderlands. 13. Retrieved 26 August 2010. 
  16. ^ a b Wylie, Betty Jane (January 1959). "The Boy with the Boot". Manitoba Pageant. 4 (2). Retrieved 17 January 2018. 
  17. ^ "Cleethorpes' leaking boot statue replaced". BBC News. 2 October 2012. Retrieved 17 January 2018. 
  18. ^ "The Boy with the Leaking Boot". North East Lincolnshire Council. Retrieved 9 July 2009. 
  19. ^ "Cleethorpes: The Boy with the Leaking Boot". Cleethorpes Tourist Information. Retrieved 17 January 2018. 
  20. ^ "CCTV reveals clues to Boy with the Leaking Boot vandals' identities (Video)". Grimsby Telegraph. 27 July 2012. Retrieved 30 September 2012. 
  21. ^ "Boy with the Leaking Boot statue returning to Cleethorpes with improved security". Grimsby Telegraph. 5 September 2012. Retrieved 30 September 2012. 
  22. ^ "Hope for future of Leaking Boot site". Grimsby Telegraph. 2 July 2009. Archived from the original on 9 July 2009. Retrieved 9 July 2009. 
  23. ^ Garcia, Jorge. "El niño de la bota de Santa Clara". Retrieved 4 June 2011. 
  24. ^ Lemes Batista, Ariel. "El niño de la bota infortunada". Retrieved 4 June 2011. 
  25. ^ Paz, Laura (27 July 2012). "A Boy and His Boot". OnCuba. Retrieved 25 March 2013. 
  26. ^ "The Mystery of the Boy With Leaking Boot". Retrieved 9 July 2009. 
  27. ^ "Worldcat record". Retrieved 9 July 2009. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Willis, James. "The Boy with the Boot". The Strange and Spooky Blog of James Willis. Retrieved 25 March 2013.  Includes illustrations of several pieces of "Boy" memorabilia