Figure 1. Kluge monument. Rosemont Cemetery, Bloomsburg, PA. Photo: author.

The Kluge monument in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, is interesting for at least three principal reasons. First, Kluge died while en route to New York, presumably from Panama; second, he was the “senior physician” of the Panama Railroad; and thirdly, there is a fantastic iconographic figure in relief of a lyre growing from an acanthus caul.

Kluge’s brothers, as signified by a scroll wrapped around the lyre, erected the monument in about 1869:

OUR BROTHER

DR. JOHN P. KLUGE.
BORN APRIL 11th 1833.
AT BETHLEHEM PA.
DIED APRIL 28th 1869.
AT SEA THREE DAYS FROM NEW YORK.
ON HOMEWARD VOYAGE.
— . —
WE KNOW THAT OUR REDEEMER LIVETH.

Kluge is also remembered as the senior physician of the Panama Railroad Company. A few words about the company are appropriate here.

The Panama Railroad Company was formed in 1848 and had as its goal the building of a railroad connection between the Atlantic and the Pacific through Panama. This was accomplished in 1855, when Kluge was 22 years old. The railroad ran from Aspinwall (now called Colón), on the Atlantic coast of Panama to Panama City on the Pacific. The Panama Canal follows this route and in fact its building was predicated upon the existence of the railroad (you’ll recall it was built in the decade from 1904-1914, profiting from some earlier French work).

THE DOCTOR WAS FOR MANY YEARS
THE SENIOR PHYSICIAN OF THE PANA-
MA RAIL ROAD COMPANY. STATIONED
AT PANAMA & ASPINWALL.

And finally, there is that caul-lyre (figure 2).

Figure 2. Kluge monument. Detail: caul-lyre. Rosemont Cemetery, Bloomsburg, PA. Photo: author.

The lyre refers to the arts generically, and the acanthus caul is a further gesture towards classical culture. It might be that the caul alludes to the lush vegetation of Panama, too. There’s a crisper version on the contemporary monument of John Hess in the same cemetery which I append for the sake of clarity (figure 3).

Figure 3. Hess monument. Detail: lyre-caul. Rosemont Cemetery, Bloomsbury, PA. Photo: author.

Published by gsb03632

A college professor living in Scranton, PA

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