Overnight, a mysterious statue appeared in the very middle of the Susquehanna River off a small town in Pennsylvania and caused a huge stir.
It was a small replica of the Statue of Liberty, and its sudden and unfounded appearance caused such a fuss that people clogged up the highway as they clambered out of their cars to get a closer look at the statue in the river.
“Traffic was stopped in both directions, you couldn’t get anywhere,” one woman told CBS.
Officials remembered that phones started ringing off the hook. Where had it come from?
Nobody knew where it came from, nobody came forward to claim the deed, and as time went on, investigations yielded no results.
Until about 25 years later.
“We kept it quiet, that was fun, that was part of the fun of the whole thing,” said Gene Stilp.
Stilp, a lawyer, had gotten together a group of 20-somethings to erect the statue in celebration of the 100th birthday of the Statue of Liberty.
He built it in a friend’s garage, and the group snuck out in the middle of the night, “32-feet in the air, and it was pitch black, and we had to be very careful,” he told Penn Live.
It was the most dangerous section of the river, and what they did was also highly illegal.
But Stilp said it wasn’t hard to get people to come help, and about a dozen guys did.
“I’d say, ‘Come on over to the garage. I have something to show you. I need people who can keep a secret, and who have the skills to do this,’” he said.
But—the statue standing there today actually isn’t even the original. It’s a replica of a replica.
Six years after Stilp and his friends put up Pennsylvania’s Lady Liberty, a particularly strong wind blew it over.
But by then, people were so attached to having their own personal replica of the nation’s statue that the town commissioned a new one to put in its place.
And it still stands there today.