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.

Gemini Giant

If you think this 20-foot-tall fellow must be unique, think again. We found his brother holding a hot dog in Atlanta, Illinois.

Giant Hot Dog

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.

Blue Whale

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.

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16 responses to “The giants of Route 66”

  1. Jennifer S Avatar

    Interesting history. We had one of those Paul Bunyan men in our part of NC for years… not sure where he is today. The whale is great!

    1. Jim Avatar

      I guess they were pretty common for a long time, but I’d never seen one in person before.

  2. Mark Avatar

    Love those muffler men mashups. I saw the Rocket man a long, long time ago, and glad to see that he is still there. We have several Paul Bunyans in MI that are the same mold.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Plenty of ’em were made!

  3. ryoko861 Avatar

    I’ve always thought it was a great way to promote a business! It’s eye catching and people remember it!

    1. Jim Avatar

      It’s definitely hard to miss!

  4. pesoto74 Avatar

    Things like this had a big impact back in the days of two-lane highway travel. At least I can remember as a kid being impressed by these roadside attractions and anticipated seeing them again when on a trip.

    1. Jim Avatar

      I was always a fan of the neon signs, especially the ones that moved and/or had moving lights.

  5. DennyG Avatar

    I can’t understand how you missed the chair any more than I understand how I missed the Catossa’s Blue Whale on my second (i.e., I kinda knew where it was) trip.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Road-trip fatigue? Trying to follow the maps and not seeing the scenery?

  6. Eric Avatar

    No giant Katsup bottle?

    Weirdly, I missed the whale on my first 2008 trip (though I’d been there before and since). It’s easy to miss. The chair, however… :)

    I’m loving how you’re dividing up your posts – not by what you see each day, but in groups of related stuff. Great highlights!

    1. Jim Avatar

      I don’t know, maybe my eyes are getting old. I spotted the whale immediately, but I can’t figure out where the chair must’ve been!

  7. Crouse Photography Avatar

    I love seeing these icons of America as we travel. I frequently think that I should photograph them, but then don’t. This is an inspiration to actually take the time to do it.

    1. Jim Avatar

      I guess we all have our photographic bugaboos. Mine is people – I’m frightened to death to photograph them! But I think nothing of pulling my car over on a busy highway to photograph some weird piece of American kitsch.


    just got back from turning 66 on route 66 — what a trip — did the whole thing in 17 days — saw all the giants — ate lots of hotdogs, chicken fried steak and B B Q – lots of Diners Drive-Ins and Dives — GOOD TIME

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Plenty of good food and good times on the Mother Road!

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