The giants of Route 66
If ever you drive Route 66, be sure to stop to see the many giant things placed along the way. It’s American kitsch at its finest.
Our very first stop on our Route 66 trip was to see the Gemini Giant in Wilmington, Illinois. It stands watch over the road next to the Launching Pad Diner.
If you think this 20-foot-tall fellow must be unique, think again. We found his brother holding a hot dog in Atlanta, Illinois.
These square-jawed giants are collectively known as Muffler Men. These fiberglass Muffler Men began appearing across the American landscape in the early 1960s. The first Muffler Man promoted a restaurant, the Paul Bunyan Cafe on Route 66 in Flagstaff, Arizona. He was dressed as the lumberjack of folklore and held an axe in his hands. Muffler Men got their common name when several were built to promote muffler shops; the men held giant mufflers in their hands. Many of them have been adapted for other uses as these two have. Thousands were produced. It’s hard telling how many remain, but four are known to stand along Route 66. This wiener-wielding fellow hasn’t always been in Atlanta. He stood watch until 2003 over a hot-dog stand in Cicero. When the stand closed, Atlanta claimed and restored this fellow.
This giant whale has been beached at a swimming hole near Catoosa, Oklahoma, since the 1970s. I gather that this became part of a much larger set of attractions at and near this site that did well through the late 1980s, but then was closed and fell into disrepair. The whale was later restored and serves as a Route 66 landmark.
I’m not sure how, but we missed the giant rocking chair near Cuba, Missouri. How do you not see a 46-foot-tall chair? We managed it somehow.