Known for their industrial and locomotive contributions to the area, it was no surprise when the wealthy Merchant family erected the massive sphere in 1896 marking the grave of Charles Merchant. The giant granite ball was placed atop a stone plinth and polished and stained to a fine shine all but for a rough spot where the ball rested on its stand. This would not have been a problem, except within a few years of its installation the sphere had begun to spin on its pedestal, eventually revealing the bald spot.
The estimated 5,200 pound ball had not been secured to the base, thinking the huge amount of friction would have simply kept it in place. Noticing the shift, the Merchant family had the giant stone lifted by a crane and placed back in its rightful orientation in 1898. They even secured the sphere with a dollop of tar.
Despite this fix, the stone has managed to once again begin spinning on its pedestal, once again revealing the bald spot. No one is quite sure why the sphere keeps moving, be it from imperceptible vibration or ghostly intervention as some would have it. But no matter the cause, the Merchant ball rolls on.
Know Before You Go
The Merchant Ball is near the northwest corner of Marion Cemetery.