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12-AUG-2005 Greg Harp

Joe Palooka, Champion of Democracy

Oolitic, Indiana

Joe Palooka was a 1940's-era comic-book hero who symbolized American individualism, self-reliance, and direct action. The 10-feet high, 10-ton Palooka monument, carved by local stonecutter George Hitchcock, was a reminder to all of America's hard-won freedoms. The stone statue of Palooka, with a cape making him resemble Superman, was dedicated in 1948 by his creator, Ham Fisher. The monument dedication was held in Bedford as part of the area's centennial festivities, but Joe was moved permanently to Oolitic in 1984. As you walk around Main Street, you can't help but notice that the surrounding buildings--fire station, hardware store, business office--are also built from the stuff that makes this area famous.

Many famous buildings are built of Oolitic Limestone. Probably the most famous is the Empire State Building. Visitors can see the "Empire Hole," about 1/2 mile north of Oolitic. This is the site where the Limestone for the Empire State Building was quarried.

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IMaSinger 24-May-2010 01:51
My dad used to point this out to me in the late 1940's and the early 50's as we traveled from Salem (IN) to Bloomington. At the time, the statue stood up on a large hill and overlooked the road winding between the hills below. At some point it disappeared and we heard that it had been toppled and broken into bits. I am thrilled to know it survived and lives in Oolitic. The not so new but improved IN-37 assures that most of us miss those great towns as we hurl through the countryside. My next trip is definitely going to be on the "old" road -- right through all the towns.
Pathfinder04-May-2006 04:12
I have been by Oolitic a number of times on Hwy 37 and had no idea this existed. I was usually headed for Bedford or Mitchell and never noticed. Interesting. I will have to stop in there sometime and take a look.