On the grounds of the "Old Courthouse" are several monuments and memorials to people, places, and events that have molded Knoxville’s history. One prominent memorial is a statue of a rugged soldier dressed in a uniform from the late 1800s, carrying a rifle and striking a confident pose as he gazes north from the corner of Gay Street and Main Avenue.
The Hiker, named after a term soldiers of the period used to describe themselves, stands atop a boulder from the nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park and was erected in 1940 to memorialize the fallen soldiers, sailors, and marines who served in Cuba, Porto Rico, China, and the Philippines from 1898 to 1902.
Theo Alice Ruggles Kitson, a reputable sculptor of war memorial statues, modeled The Hiker after Leonard Sefing, Jr., a Spanish-American War veteran, whose photo was chosen from many entries submitted in a national contest. Kitson originally intended the statue to commemorate American soldiers who fought not only in the Spanish-American War but also in the Boxer Rebellion and the Philippine-American War.
If something about this statue seems familiar there is a good reason for it. At least 50 castings of the statue have been erected in the United States since 1906 when the original was placed at the University of Minnesota to commemorate the 218 students who served in the Spanish-American War. Aside from the Minneapolis and Knoxville, the statue can also be seen gazing across landscapes throughout the nation.