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Saturday, June 3, 2017

In the news: Tom Lee Park Obelisk in Memphis toppled by storm

Tom Lee Obelisk (View at dusk) - Memphis Riverfront

Late during the afternoon of May 8, 1925, Tom Lee steered his 28 ft skiff Zev upriver after delivering an official to Helena, Arkansas.
Also on the river was a steamboat, the M.E. Norman, carrying members of the Engineers Club of Memphis, the American Society of Civil Engineers, and their families. Lee witnessed the M.E. Norman capsize in the swift current 15 mi (24 km) downriver from Memphis at Cow Island Bend. Although he could not swim, he rescued 32 people with five trips to shore. Lee acted quickly, calmly and with no regard for his own safety, continuing to search after night fell. Because of his efforts, only 23 people died.

Today. Tom Lee Park is a city park located to the immediate west of downtown Memphis overlooking the Mississippi River. Encompassing about 30 acres parallel to the river for about one mile, it offers panoramic views of the river and the shores of Arkansas on the opposite side.

Tom Lee died of cancer in 1952. Two years later, the park was named in his honor and a granite obelisk was erected. In October 2006, a bronze sculpture by artist David Alan Clark was erected in the park to commemorate the event and to honor the civil hero. The sculpture depicts the rescue of a survivor saved from drowning in the Mississippi River.

In late May, a strong windstorm powered through Memphis which knocked over this monument and shattered it into many pieces. Read the full story and see a video here.

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