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Community raises nearly $80,000 for statue in Indiana honoring local 'Rosie the Riveter'

Lynn Lewis with the Clarksville Historic Preservation Commission said Rose Will Monroe was one of the original inspirations for "Rosie."

CLARKSVILLE, Ind. — The town of Clarksville, Indiana is well-known for it's connection to the famed Lewis and Clark. But recently, the town raised thousands of dollars to honor another icon of American history. 

Lynn Lewis, president of the town's Historic Preservation Commission, said Clarksville was once home to Rose Will Monroe, better know as "Rosie the Riveter."

Originally born in Kentucky, Monroe was widowed at a young age. During World War II, she took a job as a riveter, working on planes.

At her plant, she met the actor Walter Pidgeon, who deemed her the "real" Rosie the Riveter, after a popular song that encouraged women to get involved in the war effort. 

Monroe would eventually appear in one of Pidgeon's war bond films, embodying the character. 

Lewis said she continued to live the spirit of "Rosie the Riveter" after the war. 

"She had a pilot's license, she drove a taxi, she was a woman who got things done." Lewis said. "Where she's buried in New Albany, it does say 'Rosie the Riveter.'"

Recently, the Historic Preservation Commission launched a campaign to raise money for a "Rosie" inspired art installation on the riverfront. 

The town contributed $15,000 and the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority agreed to match $40,000.

In total, the fundraising campaign nearly doubled its $40,000 donation goal, securing just over $79,000 for the project, plus the additional funds. 

When its finished, Lewis said it will sit in the heart of Clarksville's burgeoning downtown. 

"It's a great sign of cohesion in Clarksville," Lewis said. "We've never really had a downtown like other communities have. Clarksville is on the move." 

The plan is to install a life-sized "Rosie" made of fiber glass and steel framing. She'll be featured with her lunch box and rivet gun, behind a poster-style frame for pictures. 

Lewis said the project will be installed some time this fall. 

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