Museum Blog

The Unfortunate Boot

One chilly day in November, the townsfolk of Penrose gathered for the unveiling of their new fountain, donated by Julie Penrose. Julie was the wife of Spencer Penrose, after whom the town was named. According to the Fremont County Leader on November 18, 1915, a parade was led by school children carrying flags and banners. The town was decorated and every hospitality extended to the visitors that came for the unveiling. A statue sat in the center of the fountain located in the middle of town.

The fountain statue depicts a young boy with only one boot on his foot. The other he holds aloft, appearing to examine the holes found in his boot. When in use as a fountain, water flows from the holes in the boot. The boy has his left hand in his pocket and his right holding up the boot. He has just one suspender holding up his trousers, crossed over his chest. It is a common fountain statue, appearing around the nation, and even in a few other countries. The original name of the statue is thought to be “The Unfortunate Boot,” but is more commonly known as “The Boy with the Leaking Boot.”

This little fountain certainly lives up to its original name and has suffered quite a bit misfortune. He is made of pot metal, an alloy used to make fast, inexpensive castings, which is difficult to weld. The little boy had oil and tar poured over him, was run into by cars, had his boot stolen, and was even been abducted himself. In March 1969, some soldiers celebrating getting out of the service stole the little statue. Unfortunately, the investigation turned up nothing. The little boy was considered to be lost but in a surprising turn of events, he reappeared two years later hiding behind a tree!

While cleaning up debris from a car accident in Deadman’s Canyon, highway crews discovered the statue behind a tree at the foot of a cliff. The statue was returned to Penrose – but not to his former spot. Before his disappearance he sat in the middle of town but was re-located to a spot between the Beaver Park Water Company building and the post office. Sadly, he was vandalized yet again. The statue was moved to the Senior Citizens Center and was brought out for special events. However, an article in 2012 noted the statue had a nice little spot at the Penrose School, where he could safely be enjoyed by the town and (hopefully) keep his leaking boot from harm.

“Penrose Main Street”, fountain in middle of street, ca. 1952. Object ID: 1994.035.4647; Copyright Royal Gorge Regional Museum & History Center

Do you have any photos of the statue in any of his former homes? If so, we’d love to see them! The museum is open Wednesday – Saturday between 10AM – 4 PM or we can be reached at historycenter@canoncity.org or at (719) 269-9036.     

The information presented in this article is compiled using research conducted by the Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center.   

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