ThreeTXGiants

Three Texas Giants – Giant Statues of Southern Texas

Stephen Austin Angleton
Sumoflam with the 76 foot tall Stephen F. Austin Statue in Angleton, Texas

Texas is the home to three giant free standing statues, all of which exceed 70 feet in height (including the pedestal/base).

This puts these giants in the top seven tallest monuments in the United States.

The tallest of the three is the “Tribute to Courage” statue of Sam Houston, located in Huntsville, Texas.  This one stands 67 feet but also has a 10 foot pedestal, giving it a ground to top height of 77 feet.

77 Foot Tall Sam Houston Statue in Huntsville, Texas
77 Foot Tall Sam Houston Statue in Huntsville, Texas

The second tallest of the giants is the 76 foot tall Stephen F. Austin “Father of Texas” Statue in Angleton, TX.

The 76 foot tall Stephen F. Austin Statue in Angleton, Texas
The 76 foot tall Stephen F. Austin Statue in Angleton, Texas

The third giant doesn’t quite fit the nature of these two Texas heroes.  Instead, the Quan The Am Bo Tat (Also known as Quan Am – Mother of Buddha) statue in Sugar Land stands 72 feet tall as it towers over the Vietnamese Buddhist Center.

The 72 foot tall Quan The Am Bo Tat statue in Sugar Land, Texas
The 72 foot tall Quan The Am Bo Tat statue in Sugar Land, Texas
ThreeGiantsMap
Map of the Three Texas Giants

Back in June 2014 I had occasion to visit all three of the statues in the same day as I began a road trip home from a family reunion in Galveston (there will be some posts about that trip soon).  Since my plan was to get to Austin for the evening, I drove from Galveston to Angleton first, then into Sugar Land in the outskirts of Houston and finally north to Huntsville.  The visit to all three of these was well worth it!

A view of the Quan The Am Bo Tat as she overlooks the gardens
A view of the Quan The Am Bo Tat as she overlooks the gardens

The statues of Stephen Austin and Sam Houston were both done by Houston Artist David Adickes form his Sculpturworx Studio.  Adickes has created a number of giants, including a huge sculpture of the Beatles (36 feet tall) and a number of Presidents’ busts (each about 12 feet tall), many of which can be see at his studio in Houston (see map)

The Beatles statues by David Adickes in Houston (photo from http://365thingsinhouston.com)
The Beatles statues by David Adickes in Houston (photo from http://365thingsinhouston.com)

I had hoped to have time for a visit there on my trip through Houston, but couldn’t get there on this trip.  Hopefully I will have another opportunity to visit.

Sam Houston - The First Texas Giant
“Tribute to Courage” – Sam Houston – The First Texas Giant

 “Tribute to Courage” – Sam Houston Statue – The First Texas Giant
“World’s Tallest Statue of an American Hero”

The first of the giants was built in 1994 just off of Interstate 45 near Huntsville, Texas. The sculpture itself is 67 feet tall, and then it sits atop a base that adds an additional ten feet.  The locals have nicknamed him “Big Sam.”

Sumoflam with Big Sam towering behind him
Sumoflam with “Big Sam” towering behind him
"Big Sam" in Huntsville, TX
“Big Sam” in Huntsville, TX

According to the Huntsville Visitor’s Center, Sculptor David Adickes needed 30 tons of concrete and two years to work on the project. The statue was dedicated on October 22, 1994. Every year, between 50,000 and 65,000 people visit the huge tribute.  Adickes was born in Huntsville, Texas. After graduating from Sam Houston State University with degrees in both math and physics in 1948, Adickes went to the Kansas City Art Institute. He studied painting there, and then went to Paris where he studied art for two years. In 1957, he lived for a year in Japan and then traveled extensively over the next 10 years in the Far East, Mid East, Europe, Russia and North Africa.

Rear view of "Big Sam"
Rear view of “Big Sam”

Big Sam consists of five layers of concrete laid over steel mesh attached to a welded steel framework. There is a great page with diagrams about the building of this statue HERE.

Replica of Sam Houston head at the visitor center
Replica of Sam Houston head at the visitor center

There is a replica of Sam Houston’s head at the Visitor’s Center, which is reminiscent of David Adickes’ other Presidential heads.

Stephen F. Austin Statue near Angleton, Texas
Stephen F. Austin Statue near Angleton, Texas

“The Father of Texas” – Stephen F. Austin Statue – The Second Texas Giant

Soon after artist David Adickes unveiled his Sam Houston statue, a group of Brazoria County businessmen decided that it was time to honor Texas founder Stephen F. Austin, too.   Adickes agreed to do the statue at the same time he was working on his series of gigantic presidential busts for his Presidents Park in Lead, SD.  By 2003, Adickes was ready to start assembling the concrete and steel statue. He assembled the 15 sections  of the statue on a 12-foot, five-sided granite base, that took almost a year to piece together.

Stephen F. Austin - the Father of Texas
Stephen F. Austin – the Father of Texas

Much like the Sam Houston Statue, this one is 60 feet tall and sits atop a 12 foot tall pedestal, giving a total height of 72 feet.  It can clearly be seen from Highway 288.

Stephen F. Austin Statue as seen from Highway 288
Stephen F. Austin Statue as seen from Highway 288

The visitor’s center here does not always have a volunteer to assist, but there is a nice path around the park that provides a number of different views from the park.

Quan Am statue in Sugar Land, TX
Quan Am statue in Sugar Land, TX

 Quan Am – The Mother of Buddha

The idea for this statue was conceived in 1994 as the Vietnamese Buddhist Center in Sugar Land, sought for an artist to do one.  By the end of June 2001, this 72 foot tall statue was dedicated.

Closeup shot of Quan Am statue in Sugar Land, TX
Closeup shot of Quan Am statue in Sugar Land, TX

The statue was designed an build by New Orleans artist Mai Chi. She escaped from Vietnam in 1989 and spent four years in a refugee camp in Indonesia.  She has a literature degree from the University of Saigo and took up sculpting clay religious figures for Buddhist, Catholic and Muslim refugees while there. She also took up wood carving.   After being asked to build this, Chi took a year to design the statue.  According to Chi, the face came from dreams she had during the design period.

Another view of the 72 foot tall statue of Quan Am
Another view of the 72 foot tall statue of Quan Am

The statue is garbed in a long stately robe. Her right hand forms the circular Buddhist finger symbol meaning happiness and compassion. In her left hand, she holds a container of dew that brings peace and harmony.  She stands atop a lotus flower, a universal symbol of Buddhism.

Quan Am statue in Sugar Land, TX
Quan Am statue in Sugar Land, TX

Without a doubt, perhaps the most interesting part of this work was that Mai Chi turned to her artistic mentor, David Adickes, the sculptor of the other two giants, for advice on the designing the interior.  She completed the statue in seven sections and erected it in January 2001.

Other Giants of the U.S. that I have been to

Keeper Of The Plains WichitaKS2
Keeper of the Plains in WIchita, KS

Over the years, I have traveled and seen many other giants.  Following is a list from Wikipedia (which does need some updating as two of the above are not on it).

Copy of DavidStatueofLibDec1990

Statue of Liberty in New York is the tallest of all statues in the United States.

It is 151 feet tall and stands upon a 154 foot pedestal giving it a total height of 305 feet.

This was completed in 1886 and was designed and sculpted by Frédéric Bartholdi.

I have visited the Statue on four occasions. The photo on the left was taken in December 1991.

 

Our Lady of the Rockies, Butte, MT
Our Lady of the Rockies, Butte, MT

The second tallest statue in the United States (according to the Wikipedia list) was completed in 1985 high on a mountain in Butte, Montana.

Designed by Laurien Eugene Riehl, this statue stands 88.6 feet tall and can be seen from Interstate 15 in Butte.

I took this photo in March 2013 from way below using a zoom lens to capture it.

I have not visited the third largest, which is the National Monument of the Forefathers in Plymouth, MA, which stands 81 feet tall.  The fourth largest is the Golden Driller in Tulsa, OK, standing 75 feet tall.

Jesus of the Ozarks in Eureka Springs, AR
Jesus of the Ozarks in Eureka Springs, AR

Standing 65.5 feet tall, the Jesus of the Ozarks statue was completed in 1966 and overlooks a nice park in the touristy town of Eureka Springs.

I got to visit this statue in 2012

 

 

KeeperOfThePlainsWichitaKS1The “Keeper of the Plains” statue in Wichita, Kansas only stands 44 feet tall, but it also sits atop a 30 foot pedestal making the total height of 74 feet.

This was designed and created by Kiowa-Comanche artist Blackbear Bosin in 1974. It stands at the confluence of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas Rivers.  I visited this in 2012.

HiawathaIronwoodMI4The “World’s Tallest and Largest Indian” Statue of Hiawatha in Ironwood, MI is another wonderful giant.  Hiawatha stands at 52 feet and weighs 16,000 pounds, including anchoring internal steelwork, and is engineered to withstand 140 mph winds.

Hiawatha was built in Minneapolis in 1964, transported to Ironwood and erected in the “caves area,” on the site of the Old Norrie .Iron Mine.

Jolly Green Giant in Black Earth, MN
Jolly Green Giant in Black Earth, MN

An icon of television advertising, the 55.5 foot tall Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth, MN is another giant.

This was built in 1979 by a radio station owner and commissioned by a Wisconsin company to build it.

I have visited twice and both times was not able to do much due to torrential rains. The picture at left is of my son Seth from a trip he took in 2005.

MarkTwainNewLondonMO1
Mark Twain statue in New London, MO

One last “giant” that I have visited is along the highway near New London, MO.

This nearly 45 foot tall statue of Mark Twain is kind of funky with a giant head and small hands, but, it definitely fits the category of “giant”

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TwoTowers

The Two Towers of Paris – Tennessee and Texas

Two Towers
A Tale of Two Towers

This is a tale of Two Towers – both in a place named Paris, but one is in Tennessee and the other in Texas. The map below shows that they are about 8 hours away from each other.

Paris2ParisMap
Paris, TN and Paris, TX – Home of the battling Two Towers

There are seventeen towns in the U.S. with the name of Paris (and one in Ontario, Canada as well — and I lived there for a while).  I have been to Paris in Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, Idaho, Illinois, Ohio, and Missouri.  But the towns of Paris, TX and Paris, TN are the only ones to have an Eiffel Tower that is fairly large.  Paris, Michigan has a smaller one.  And there are a couple of other places, such as Atlanta, Austin and Las Vegas that have them…. but I am focused on the Paris versions. See this page for a list of NINE replicas around the world.

Paris, TX
Paris, TX
Paris, TN
Paris, TN

I took a road trip to Galveston in June 2014 and along the way I had occasion to pass through both of these towns named Paris (Paris, TX and Paris, TN) and capture their versions of the Eiffel Tower.  (I’ll have some posts about my trip through the state of TN, MS, LA, TX, AR, MO and some of the unique places I visited coming in August 2014).

Eiffel Tower in Paris, Tennessee is 60 feet tall
Eiffel Tower in Paris, Tennessee is 60 feet tall

Both of these towers were built in 1993 and a battle ensued for the tallest.  At first, the Tennessee version of the Eiffel Tower was originally built in 1990 at Christian Brothers University, but was later donated to the town of Paris, where is was moved and reassembled. The tower was designed to scale by Tom Morrison, professor emeritus of civil engineering; Jim Jacobs, assistant professor of mechanical engineering; and Roland Raffanti, engineering lab technician, from Christian Brothers University. According to Brother Patrick O’Brien, Morrison designed the model’s design based on the original drawings of Gustave Eiffel. At 60 feet tall, the tower is a nearly perfect 1:20 scale replica of the original.

The Eiffel Tower in Paris, Texas
The Eiffel Tower in Paris, Texas

The Eiffel Tower in Paris, TX Texas’s was built by the Boilermakers 902, a labor union representing workers of the former Babcock and Wilcox Paris Plant, and was 65 feet tall.

Eiffel Tower in Tennessee goes to 70 feet in 1998
Eiffel Tower in Tennessee goes to 70 feet in 1998

In 1998 when Tennessee moved its’ tower to Paris they expanded their tower to 70 feet.  But, the Texans wouldn’t have it. They made the claim of being “The second largest Paris in the World,” so in 1998 town boosters added a large red cowboy hat to the top of the 65 foot tower, which made it a tad taller than Tennessee’s tower.

The Paris, Texas Eiffel Tower with a Cowboy Hat on top
The Paris, Texas Eiffel Tower with a Cowboy Hat on top

Both are dwarfed by the massive Eiffel Tower replica in Las Vegas, but in the battle of the American Paris Towers, currently, the Texas version holds true to things being bigger in Texas….

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Looks like a cloud monster ready to fly down and eat someone...

Taking the Long Way Home from Nebraska – 800 miles in a day

Clouds over Concordia
Giant Clouds over Concordia, Missouri

The best and worst part of a long road trip is the coming home part.  Its always nice to be at home in my own bed after a grueling trip across the country.  But, it is bittersweet.  All of the adventures, sights, sounds and exhilaration are behind me.  The last leg of the trip is usually on the Interstates to get home as quickly as possible (with a few brief stops along the way).  This trip was no different.  My trip home was the “long way home” as it covered over 870 miles on the last day as I traveled straight from Grand Island, Nebraska to Lexington (via Kansas City and St. Louis in order to visit a friend in KC).

The Last Leg of a nine day trip - 870 miles from Grand Island, NE to Lexington, KY
The Last Leg of a nine day trip – 870 miles from Grand Island, NE to Lexington, KY
Starting off at sunrise in Grand Island, NE
Starting off at sunrise in Grand Island, NE

I started off early on this May 29 (Thursday) morning cruising east on Interstate 80.  It was a beautiful morning drive with a bit of mist in the air providing for some nice scenes from the highway.

Heading east on I-80 from Grand Island
Heading east on I-80 from Grand Island
Early morning in the heartland of America...east central Nebraska on I-80
Early morning in the heartland of America…east central Nebraska on I-80

My first stop was in York, Nebraska.  I had to stop for a rest stop and to get a photo of the uniquely colored water tower.

Water tower in York, Nebraska
Water tower in York, Nebraska

From York the interstate continued east to Lincoln, the capitol city of Nebraska.  It is home to the historic Capitol Building, a towering 400 foot tall building that can be seen for miles. Construction began in 1922 and was completed in 1932.  The building is not the tallest state capitol in the country.  That goes to the Louisiana State Capitol, which is 450 feet tall.  Nonetheless, the “Skyscraper of the Plains” is quite impressive.

The "Skyscraper of the Plains", Nebraska's State Capitol in Lincoln, can be seen for miles
The “Skyscraper of the Plains”, Nebraska’s State Capitol in Lincoln, can be seen for miles
And this is a closer look at the impressive "Skyscraper of the Plains"
And this is a closer look at the impressive “Skyscraper of the Plains”

Of course, Nebraska is the “Cornhusker State” and there are plenty of corn fields to be seen from the highway.

Rolling corn fields in Eastern Nebraska
Rolling corn fields in Eastern Nebraska

From Lincoln, I continued into Nebraska City, a place I have visited and stayed in (see my blog post about this lovely town). When there, I always have to stop at Sapp Brothers on the southside of town (actually in Percival, IA) off of Interstate 29….they have the cleanest restrooms on I-29!

Sapp Brothers in Nebraska City, the "Cleanest Restrooms on I-29"
Sapp Brothers in Nebraska City, the “Cleanest Restrooms on I-29″
The famous Sapp Brothers Coffee Pot Water tower in Nebraska City
The famous Sapp Brothers Coffee Pot Water tower in Nebraska City

Not too far south of Nebraska City, I-29 crosses into the far southwest corner of Iowa and through the small town of Hamburg, which basically hugs the borders of Missouri to the south and Nebraska to the west.

This is a shot of downtown Hamburg, IA
This is a shot of downtown Hamburg, IA
There is a nice wall mural on the side of the Blue Moon Bar and Grille in Hamburg
There is a nice wall mural on the side of the Blue Moon Bar and Grille in Hamburg

Perhaps the real treat in Hamburg is Stoner Drug…yes, a strange name for a drug store.  But this particular shop also houses an old fashioned Soda Fountain, which is rare to find nowadays.  Even has the little spinning chairs and they make MALTS too.

Stoner Drug in Hamburg, IA
Stoner Drug in Hamburg, IA
The old fashioned soda fountain inside of Stoner Drug
The old fashioned soda fountain inside of Stoner Drug
Stoner Drug even sells T-shirts and hats.  I almost got one, but I had used my "hat money" on a Carhenge hat the previous day
Stoner Drug even sells T-shirts and hats. I almost got one, but I had used my “hat money” on a Carhenge hat the previous day

Heading south from Hamburg you are almost in Missouri immediately.

Welcome to Missouri
Welcome to Missouri

My main purpose for heading south to Kansas City was to visit with my good friend Brad Sweeten, the Athletic Director at Center High School in Kansas City, MO.  I stopped in for a visit and lunch at one of his favorite places (and mine too), Oklahoma Joe’s Bar-B-Que.  My last trip we visited their store in a gas station.  This time it was at their new place…still plenty of lines.

Stopping in KC to enjoy lunch with my good friend Brad Sweeten at Oklahoma Joe's
Stopping in KC to enjoy lunch with my good friend Brad Sweeten at Oklahoma Joe’s
Inside of Oklahoma Joe's - nice atmosphere, great food and big portions
Inside of Oklahoma Joe’s – nice atmosphere, great food and big portions

After my brief stopover in Kansas City is was time to fly on home down the Interstate.  As I drove through Missouri, the clouds were amazing…giant cumulonimbus clouds were framed by the blue background of the sky.

Large clouds over central Missouri
Large clouds over central Missouri
Looks like a cloud monster ready to fly down and eat someone...
Looks like a cloud monster ready to fly down and eat someone…

After a hearty meal, a short night of sleep and a lot of driving already, it was time for a nap….even Road Warriors need to sleep!!

Nap time in Missouri - even Road Warriors gotta sleep
Nap time in Missouri – even Road Warriors gotta sleep

After my brief 30 minute power snooze, I was back on the road with only one other planned stop to see a Paul Bunyan looking Muffler Man in Wentzville, MO.

I went to Wentsville!
I went to Wentzville, the Crossroads of the Nation
Paul Bunyan Muffler Man just off of the interstate in Wentzville, IL
Paul Bunyan Muffler Man just off of the interstate in Wentzville, MO

If you are really interested in Muffler Men and Uniroyal Gals and their variations, you MUST see Roadside America’s Muffler Man Page.  It is chock full of info, history and even a location map of these big guys and gals.

Sumoflam and Muffler Man in Wentzville, MO
Sumoflam and Muffler Man in Wentzville, MO

I have seen many of these guys in my travels and you’ll run across them in my blogs.  (HERE are some in Texas; a Uniroyal gal in Idaho; a Native American Muffler Man in Bemidji, MN; a Big John in Metropolis, IL; another Big John in Great Falls, MT and there are more.)

Approach to St. Louis, MO - heavy traffic!
Approach to St. Louis, MO – heavy traffic!

On the way into St. Louis I got slowed down considerably by heavy late afternoon traffic.  I was really glad when I finally go to Cardinals Stadium, which meant I was soon across the river…

Cardinals Stadium and Gateway Arch in St. Louis.
Cardinals Stadium and Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

I still had quite a trip as a drove home with the sunset to my back…

Sunset as seen from southern Illinois
Sunset as seen from southern Illinois
And this was the final sunset as seen in my rear view mirror as I finished off my trip
And this was the final sunset as seen in my rear view mirror as I finished off my trip

Finally, the last leg of a trip covering 9 days, 12 states, 4500+ miles and numerous amazing adventures was over with at about 1 AM EST.  Time for a rest…. (154)

Enjoying the Ride on the Back Roads of America

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