Monument honoring Chandler is moved

HENDERSON — A monument honoring Corydon native A.B. "Happy" Chandler was moved from its resting place on U.S. 60, but Happy is probably not unhappy about it.

The move was only about 30 feet off the roadway, and about 100 feet closer to Corydon.

"Just across this meadow (which is now a soybean field), I first saw the light of day," Chandler said when the monument was dedicated June 26, 1958. About 400 people showed up for that event, which occurred during Chandler's second term as governor.

U.S. 60 was a lot narrower back in 1958, noted Keith Todd, spokesman for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. "The roadway has grown out to the monument," and prior to Sept. 9 was right at the pavement's edge.

In 2005 the cabinet formed the U.S. 60 Corridor Safety Task Team, which identified six or eight possible trouble spots along the highway. The monument's proximity to the driving lanes was one of them, and the last to be rectified, Todd said.

But talk of moving the monument stirred some controversy, especially the idea of moving the monument to A.B. Chandler Elementary School or the park at Corydon.

"This is the right place," said Corydon Mayor Larry Thurby. "It's right here close to his home place. This is the place for it. It's right on a public highway and people have got room to pull off and look at it.

"I'm just glad they're continuing to leave it here. It represents a lot of history in our city and we're proud of him."

Chandler was born just up the hill on July 14, 1898, and went on to twice become governor, as well as state senator, lieutenant governor, U.S. senator and national commissioner of baseball. He integrated the sport in that role.

The monument, which is a large piece of limestone with a bronze plaque attached that lists his achievements, was originally placed there by a committee of private citizens, all friends of Chandler's.

Todd noted that the Kentucky Historical Society, which keeps track of the state's historical markers, had no record of the monument because it had been privately funded and placed.

Nevertheless, Todd explained, the monument stayed where it was until the historical society could come up with about $13,000 in its budget to pay for a new one.

"We were not going to move that rock until we had money in the bank to replace it if it should break," he said, explaining that an examination by an expert showed the rock had a few fractures in the limestone.

That was the main consideration in keeping the stone in the same vicinity, he said. "Our concern was that if we moved it very far the likelihood of the stone breaking goes up."

But the cabinet was adamant that the monument had to be moved back from the highway, he said. "You want a certain area of free space where (motorists) won't hit something substantial that could cause bodily harm."