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US Monuments: Ava, Ohio - Shenandoah * Norfolk, Virginia - Roma * Lakehurst, New Jersey * Pine Lake Park, New Jersey - Akron * East Garden City, NY - R-34 * Hempstead, NY - R-34 * Cathedral of the Air, Lakehurst, NJ * Burbank, California

The United States has a rich history in Airships but a rather pathetic and apathetic recognition of them. There is only one major monument and that is for the USS Shenandoah, and the only book about that airship is, sadly, entitled "America's Forgotten Air Disaster"! So, on this page is every monument or memorial I could find. Sadly, it's not many.

Ava, Ohio - USS Shenandoah:

Shenandoah

Photo credit: US Navy

There is a very nice memorial located at Ava, Ohio. It is a stone monument, with a representative bronze ZR-1 in the middle, and is the only proper, formal stone monument to an airship in the United States:

ZR-1 Memorial

Shenandoah memorial.

Photo credit: Historical Marker Database.
http://www.hmdb.org/PhotoFullSize.asp?PhotoID=52572

Here is a close-up of the bronze plaque:

Shenandoah memorial bronze.

Photo credit: Historical Marker Database.
http://www.hmdb.org/PhotoFullSize.asp?PhotoID=52573

The memorial at 39.833237 N, Lon 81.574209 W:

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Shenandoah Crash Sites & Markers

When she came down that September day in 1925, she broke into 3 parts, creating 3 crash sites. All 3 locations are well-known, as well as the markers and memorials. Here they are:

Crash Site #1

Crash Site 1.

Photo credit: National Register.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/nationalregister/3972152180/

(Above.) The control car, two engines, and part of the midsection fell here near the Andy Gamary farmhouse (seen in the background).

Today, the crash site (thankfully) is marked by a small granite headstone.

Crash site 1.

Photo credit: Undetermined

Immediately next to (to the right) of the formal headstone is the cement marker hastily placed by locals soon after the crash was cleaned up. The marker reads "This is the spot of the Landowne", referring to the spot where the body of Commander Zachary Lansdowne was found.

Crash site 1 - Landowne.

Photo credit: Undetermined

The wreckage was at 39.839108 N, 81.538544 W. As found on Google Maps:

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Crash Site #2

Crash Site 2.

Photo credit: Public domain.

(Above) The aft section fell near what is today Interstate 77 about 1/2 mile SW of Crash Site 1 at the Gamary farmhouse.

Today, the crash site is hard to get to and is only marked by a painted plywood billboard.

Crash site 2 Billboard.

Photo credit: Undetermined

The billboard is at 39.835184 N, 81.546320 W. As found on Google Maps:

(Note: In 2015 for the 90th anniversary of the unfortunate loss of the Shenandoah, the billboard at crash site 2 was replaced. I have as yet encountered any photos of this new marker I can publish here. There is a photo of the new billboard at http://www.blimpinfo.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/New-Site-2-sign1.jpg, but since it has identifiable people in the photo, I can't use it without securing photo-releases from each.)

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Crash Site #3

Crash Site 3.

Photo credit: US Navy

(Above) Crash Site 3 is where the nose section of the Shenandoah came down. Today, one can visit the exact spot on highway 78 (also known as "McConnelsville Road") where there is a nice granite marker, and a painted sign.

Crash Site 3.

Photo credit: Undetermined

Crash Site 3.

Photo credit: Historical Marker Database
http://www.hmdb.org/Marker.asp?Marker=18025

This location is 39.741256 N, Lon 81.593285 W. Here it is in Google Maps:

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Roadside markers - USS Shenandoah:

In the United States, more often than not, you find "roadside markers" to commemorate a significant event, rather than any formal, stone monument. For the Shenandoah, there are two that I have located:

Ava, Ohio:

Roadside Marker.

Photo credit: Composite, public marker

This location is 39.830668° N, 81.574079° W. Here it is in Google Maps:

Pleasant City, Ohio, on Interstate 77:

Roadside Marker

Photo credit: Public marker

This location is 39.905602° N 81.528728° W. Here it is in Google Maps:

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Norfolk, Virginia - the Roma:

Roma

Photo credit: Public domain

The Roma, carrying 45 on-board, crashed at Norfolk, Virginia on 21 February, 1922, killing 34. Sadly, the only marker to remember the airship and crew is a small, cement marker completely inaccessible to the public, and not even near the crash site.

Roma memorial.

Photo credit: Nancy Sheppard, Airship ROMA Disaster in Hampton Roads

The memorial at 36.915404° N, 76.314141° W, but it is not accessible to the public:

Historian, Nancy Sheppard, author of The Airship ROMA Disaster in Hampton Roads has raised the funds for a historic marker to be placed for the Roma. As soon as it is dedicated and its location known, this page will be updated.

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Lakehurst, New Jersey:

Lakehurst, New Jersey, of course, could be described as the "hub" of airship activity in the United States. While the giant airship hangar which once provided shelter for the Hindenburg and all the US rigid airships is still there, there is no powerful monument at this great site.

Crash Site of the Hindenburg:

Hindenburg crash site

Photo credit: Jesse Loesch
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jesseloesch/4058659539/sizes/l/in/photostream/

A bronze plaque marks the spot where the control car of the ill-fated Hindenburg crashed to the ground:

Hindenburg crash site

Photo credit: Undetermined

The memorial at 40.030311° N, 74.325747° W, but a visit to the site must be pre-arranged as the site is on the Lakehurst Naval Air Station:

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Pine Lake Park, Manchester Township, New Jersey - USS Akron:

USS Akron in flight

Photo credit: Public domain

The USS Akron crashed April 4th, 1933 off the coast of New Jersey. Seventy-three of the 76 on-boared perished. No formal monument to the Akron and her crew exists. A tiny memorial exists at the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) monument at Pine Lake Park, Manchester Township, New Jersey, about 4 miles east southeast of Lakehurst.

USS Akron Commemoration

Photo credit: mortonfox on panoramio

Located in the middle column of the dedication exists a small plaque honoring the men of the USS Akron. The small dedication contains a piece of duralumin girder from the airframe of the airship.

USS Akron plaque

Photo credit: Associated Press

The memorial at 40.006977° N 74.255163° W:

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Cathedral of the Air, Lakehurst, New Jersey:

Cathedral of the Air

Photo credits: Undetermined.

The Cathedral of the Air was built in 1932 by the American Legion to serve military personnel of the surrounding military facilities. Surprisingly, little information is found on-line about its history - even the Wikipedia article about it is only one short paragraph! Within its walls, both the USS Shenandoah and the USS Akron are commemorated with bronze plaques.

Here is the plaque commemorating the USS Shenandoah. Note that it was dedicated in 1926, just one year after the fateful disaster. Dedicated in June, 1926, at the large Hangar 1 at the Naval Air Station at Lakehurst, the plaque was relocated to the Cathedral of the Air after the cathedral's completion in 1932 presumably due to restricted access to the Lakehurst Hangar.

Shenandoah Plaque

Photo credits: Rick Zitarosa.

It's a fine tribute to the crew of the Shenandoah, but it is sad that it has fallen into such obscurity. I've been researching airships for at least 15 years and did not become aware of the existence of this Shenandoah plaque till I saw a post on the AIRSHIPS, DIRIGIBLE, AND ZEPPELINS FaceBook page, https://www.facebook.com/groups/airshipblimpzeppelin/, in 2016.

Here is the plaque commemorating the USS Akron:

Akron Plaque

Photo credits: Undetermined.

The Cathedral of the Air is at 40.017873 N, 074.310421 W. Here is its location in Google Maps:

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East Garden City, Long Island, New York - Commemoration of the 1919 R-34 Atlantic Crossing:

R-34 in Mineola, NY

The R-34 at Mineola New York, 1919. Photo credit: Public domain

The first transatlantic crossing by ANY aircraft took place from July 2-6, 1919. The British airship R-34 departed from Scotland and landed in Mineola, New York at what was then the Roosevelt (or Hazelhurst) Airfield. The next day, July 10th, the R-34 made the return crossing, arriving at Pulham England on July 12th.

This great achievement was commemorated by the placement of matching stone and copper-bronze plaques in Scotland and in New York! The Marker in Scotland is located here: East Fortune . Sadly, the marker for the US recognition of the feat has been removed from its original location and is shoved into a corner of the "Cradle of Aviation" museum, in East Garden City, New York. The only good thing is that the Cradle of Aviation museum is only about 1 mile south of where the Airfield once stood, and where the magnificent R-34 landed. It's shameful that the monument is not even outdoors where it is publicly accessible. Worse, it seems that absolutely no educational material about the R-34 Atlantic crossing is presented to visitors to the museum. This outstanding achievement in airship history, and aviation history in general is nothing but a tiny "footnote" at the museum.

R-34 Monument, NY

The R-34 monument stuck in a corner of the "Cradle of Aviation" museum, East Garden City, NY. Photo credit: Mike Camero

The memorial is inside the Cradle of Aviation Museum approximately at 40.728840° N, 73.597068° W:

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Hempstead, Long Island, New York - Mural commemorating the R-34 Atlantic Crossing:

R-34 Mural

The R-34 mural at the Hempstead Post Office. Photo credit: Undetermined

The first transatlantic crossing by the R-34 is commemorated by this mural in the Hempstead Post Office for its significance to the first transatlantic airmail!

Oddly, this mural is more prominently placed than the stone marker commemorating the R-34 Atlantic crossing found stuffed in a corner of the Cradle of Aviation museum (see above). At least the Post Office recognizes the historic event!

The mural is inside the Hempstead Post office approximately at 40.707455° N, 73.628321° W:

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Burbank, California - Portal of the Folded Wings:

Prtal of teh Folded Wings

Photo credit: DebbieSue on panoramio

The Portal of the Folded Wings is an aviation memorial the Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery, Burbank, California. Buried on the floor of this monument is Roy Knabenshue an American airship pioneer. If you are not familiar with him, this site has three pages dedicated to Knabenshue and his airships The Knabenshue Toledo No. 1; The Knabenshue Toledo No. 2; and the The Knabenshue II;

The memorial at 34.190318° N, 118.353859° W:

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