We continue our survey of wacko travel destinations with a look at the giant fiberglass men that dot the nation. They are all derived from a Paul Bunyan mold and have been adapted to attract attention to a variety of venues.
You’ve seen them holding golf clubs, tires and mufflers. A giant, looming man with his hands out in an attitude originally designed to hold a giant ax. The structures were all made by International Fiberglass, owned by Steve Dashew from 1963 to 1974.
Dashow told RoadsideAmerica.com:
“The first figure was a Paul Bunyan, done for the PB Cafe on Route 66 in Flagstaff, Arizona in about 1962. Most of the statues were derivatives of that one mold — fill in the beard in the mold, or add a new chest for Indians, etc.”
Midwest and plains
A giant Man of Steel protects the southern Illinois town of Metropolis. While not exactly the urban mecca pictured in DC Comics, the namesake town boasts a 15-foot statue of Superman. It has been greeting visitors to “Superman Square” since 1993, when it replaced a seven foot version erected in 1986.
A 55-foot-tall effigy of the Jolly Green Giant has been standing in Blue Earth, Minn. since 1979. Green Giant vegetables were originally canned by the Minnesota Valley Canning Company, founded in 1903 in nearby Le Sueur, Minnesota.
There is more than one “wold’s largest ball of twine” in the country, but the largest made by a single person is 11 feet in diameter and weighs in at nearly 9 tons. It is located in Darwin, Minn. A larger, ever-growing ball can be found in Cawker City, Kansas, but it was made by many hands. Tourists are encouraged to add to the ball at the annual festival devoted to the cord orb.
North and South Dakota seem to have more than their share of over-sized and bizarre tourist stops. Here is a brief survey of a few.
The Enchanted Highway is a sprawling outdoor gallery of giant metal sculptures along a 32 miles stretch of asphalt in North Dakota, created by artist Gary Greff. It features a giant farm family made partly of steel oil drums, as well as a family of giant metal pheasants, among many others.
A giant turtle made entirely of 2,000 tire rims, the W’eel Turtle Sculpture, greets customers to Dale’s Thrift barn and cafe in Dunseith, N.D.
Crazy Horse, S.D. is the home of the Crazy Horse Monument. The magnificent work in progress rivals Mount Rushmore in its scope and aim. Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski began work on his life’s project in 1948 and kept it up until his death in 1982. Since then, his family continues to work toward completing the project. The work depicts a giant bust of the Native American leader, carved into a rock face, as well as a giant mounted warrior emerging from the side of a cliff.
The Fremont Troll sits under a bridge in the Fremont district of Seattle, holding down a real Volkswagen beetle. The funky, charming shadow-dweller was constructed in 1990 during an urban renewal program.
Once used to advertise the Twin Arrows Trading Post, two giant arrows are all the remain now, standing at angles in the Colorado Plateau in the town of Twin Arrows, Ariz.
Dinny the Dinosaur is an enormous Apatosaurus with a gift shop in her belly on I-10 near Cabazon, Calif. Her creator, Claude Bell, completed her in 1970. Her companion, a T-Rex, stands nearby, though it was never completed after Bell’s death in 1989.
And we leave you with the world’s largest artichoke. It is the six-foot-diameter metal mascot of the yearly artichoke fest in Castroville, Calif.