Y is for Yard Art – #atozchallenge

One of the more interesting things I look for on roadtrips as I pass through small communities on back roads is yard art.  Funky art and decorations in people’s yards, on their fences, on their houses. People have ingenuity.  Some people have junk.  But, as the saying goes, “One Man’s Junk is Another Man’s Treasure.”

Unique Yard Art in Parker, Idaho

For me, Yard Art is anything unique and unusual.  It could be chain saw art – wood carvings made with chain saws.  It could be art made from scrap metal.  It could be, like the photo above, a hodge podge of signs, junk or other things.  Following are some selections of yard art I have taken over the years.  Don’t judge…some of these people love their “collections.”  I just love my collection of photos of theirs…  Enjoy the virtual ride.

Scrap Metal Art in Oil Springs, Ontario
Hubcap Barn – Central Kentucky
A Chain Saw Art Santa at Santa’s Candy Castle in Santa Claus, Indiana
Buried parts of airplanes at the Flying Tiger Museum in Toco, TX
Yet another junk collector along US Route 2 at the Blueberry Antique Store in Blueberry, WI
Scrap metal bison in someone’s front yard in Rudyard, Montana
“Not the Hotel California” in Lima, Montana
Hodge Podge Water Garden at home in Orlando, Kentucky
Scrap Metal Dinosaur – work done by Wally Keller – near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Bethel Saloon in Port Orchard, WA
Scrap Metal Horse at Woodford Reserve near Versailles, Kentucky
The Shack Playground, The Shack Burger Resort, Cypress, TX
Scrap Metal Guy Mailbox at Frontier Steakhouse – Dunkirk, Montana
Front of Henry’s Rabbit Ranch in Staunton, IL
Car Advertising in Commerce, Oklahoma
Giant scrap metal chopper and rider at Full Throttle Saloon in Sturgis, SD
P’MAWS Bait Shack in Pierre Part, LA (Notice it is SWAMP spelled backwards)
Scrap Metal Alligator – Harrietsville, Ontario
Blue Banana Espesso Bar in Lostine, Oregon
Gotta add some wood carvings – these from Nebraska City, NE
Scrap Metal and wire Man and Dog at entrance to Gates of the Mountains in Montana, south of Helena
Whimsical Sculpture at Winter Wheat in Sparta, Ontario
A “Flower Bed” in What Cheer, Iowa
Wooden sculpture in a yard across from Daffin’s in Sharon, PA
Road Sign Art in Meadville, PA
A menagerie of oddball and offbeat things all over the roof, side of the house and the yard – Hamtramck Disneyland in Hamtramck, MI
Metal Bird – Idaho Falls, Idaho
“Javelin Man” by Larry Vennard in Centralia, Missouri
Flower Man House – Houston, Texas
Scene from Cliff Bruce Windmill Hill in Woodstock, Ontario
Greedy Attorney – Jurustic Park – Marshfield, Wisconsin
Hand made dinos at Wells Dinosaur Haven in Uncasville, CT
Nice carved eagle in Redcliff, Colorado
Hillbilly Hot Dogs long view – Lesage, WV
Hillbilly Hot Dogs near Lesage, WV
Giant Armadillo – Texas Pipe Company – Houston, Texas
A Scrap Metal Sculpture in Bemidji, MN
Art Car at Third Street Stuff – Lexington, Kentucky
Spider Volkswagen in someone’s backyard – Wolf Creek, Oregon
A hodge podge of scrap metal art at Porter’s Sculpture Park in Montrose, SD
Chainsaw Forest near Medford, WI
Small Metal Sculpture in Gladstone, ND
Buck Samuelson sculptures on a hillside in Glasgow, Montana
Chainsaw Carved Bear Mailbox, Ontario, Canada
Sumoflam and Justin Howland at Grizz Works in Maple, WI. Giant Grizzly is amazing! He makes yard art
A view of Boudreau’s Antiques and Collectibles on US Hwy 2 east of Ashland, WI
Big Indian – Blackwater, Missouri
Wood carved things in front of Fat Smitty’s in Discovery Bay, WA
The Mattress Ranch “pasture” in Port Orchard, WA
Looks like Humpty Dumpty is alive and well in Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Gasoline Pump Art Sculpture in Story, IN

Fiberglass Giants Part I – The Muffler Men and Such

DeForestWILet’s face it, Americans love those quirky roadside attractions!  We all know it and its time to admit it. As far back as the 1930s they have been around.  But it was the 1960s and 1970s that really got the roadside things going as people traveled Route 66 and other US Highways.  The quirky and offbeat were the drawing cards…the highways were our Disneylands!

SeymourWI3Remnants of those days still hang around even as some artsy companies keep pushing them out to roadside restaurants, garages and filling stations.

The Old Muffler Man - (photo courtesy Roadside America - used with permission)
The Old Muffler Man – (photo courtesy Roadside America – used with permission) This one known as the Joor Muffler Man in Escondido, CA

One of the most iconic of the roadside tchotchkes were the Muffler Men, those roadside giants holding Mufflers and axes and other things. I remember them well from my youthful 1960s living in Albuquerque.  There are now websites that are totally devoted to them (such as the American Giants website with great, professionally produced documentary-style videos made by Joel Baker and his team) and then my favorite site on the web Roadside America, which has a huge section about them including a detailed and fascinating (and well-researched!) history of these guys.

Roadside America's Interactive Muffler Man Map (used by permission - click map to go to the actual interactive map)
Roadside America’s Interactive Muffler Man Map (used by permission – click map to go to the actual interactive map)

Like many travelers, a few years ago I figured there were only one kind of muffler man.  But, as I have traveled across this country, I have run into a few of them and their derivatives as well as some that were mistaken as muffler men.  Once again, the genius team at Roadside America has even gone to the trouble to create a glossary to identify the myriad variety.

MufflerManID
Muffler Man Identifier – click to go to the actual Roadside America page. (used by permission)

So, as I drive the back roads of America, I am always on the look out for these friends of the freeways and heroes of the highways.  I am nowhere close to have come across the dozens and dozens of them, but I have certainly stumbled on a few and even have enjoyed the variety of them as shown in this post.

Cowboy Muffler Man - Big John in Great Falls, Montana
Cowboy Muffler Man – Big John in Great Falls, Montana (originally designed for Phillips 66)

The one above has a mustache and a cowboy hat. It is the parking lot attendant for a big casino in Great Falls.

Paul Bunyan in Wentzville, MO advertising that No Job is Too Big
Paul Bunyan in Wentzville, MO advertising that No Job is Too Big
Big Indian in Bemidji, MN in front of a souvenir shop
Big Indian in Bemidji, MN in front of a souvenir shop

So, what is the history.  I suggest you read the entire story HERE.  But, in a nutshell, it was Steve Dashell’s company, “International Fiberglass, that turned out thousands of commercial statues in the 1960s and 70s. International Fiberglass took a single statue mold created for a cafe and parlayed it into a roadside industry.”  It turns out that International Fiberglass also created the green Sinclair Dino’s (many are still around) and some ESSO Tigers (remember those?).  His first fiberglass giant was built in 1962 for a restaurant in Flagstaff, AZ.  It was a Paul Bunyan looking Lumberjack.  I am a graduate of Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff and, if I am not mistaken, that same Paul Bunyan now sits on the NAU Campus as does one other. (see the story here)  Unfortunately, during my time at NAU I never took any photos of them….humph!!

NAU Lumberjack - copyright Roadside America
NAU Lumberjack – copyright Roadside America

Dashell’s company made some basic molds and then were able to use them to create a variety of styles.  Some were made for Texaco, some for Uniroyal (a Female statue).

Uni-royal Gal - this one is now in a pose out front of Norma's Cafe in Blackfoot, ID
Uniroyal Gal – this one is now in a pose out front of Martha’s Cafe in Blackfoot, ID

There are a few collectors out there and so they sometimes appear in out of the way places.  Perhaps the most well known collector is Glen Goode in Gainesville, TX. (see RA Article Here).  I visited Glen’s place in 2012.  He has the BIG THREE including a Uniroyal Gal, a Muffler Man and a couple of Big Johns.

Glen Goode's Big People
Glen Goode’s Big People in Gainesville, TX
Sumoflam at Glen Goode's Big People in
Sumoflam at Glen Goode’s Big People in Gainesville, TX (November 2012)
Smiling Big John at Glen Goode's
Smiling Big John at Glen Goode’s
Big Tex Muffler Man smiles too
Big Tex Muffler Man smiles too

The Big Johns were made by a company in or around Cape Girardeau, MO in the late 1960s and 1970s.  I have come across one of the originals in Metropolis, IL, with grocery sacks and all.  It stands nearly 30 feet tall.  Unfortunately, he is outshined by the 12 foot tall BRONZE Superman in Metropolis (added here for fun)

Big John with Grocery Bags in Metropolis, IL
Big John with Grocery Bags in Metropolis, IL
Sumoflam and the 12 foot tall bronze Superman in Metropolis (not fiberglass, but a neighbor to Big John)
Sumoflam and the 12 foot tall bronze Superman in Metropolis (not fiberglass, but a neighbor to Big John)

I also saw one as I drive into Mississippi from Tennessee, without the bags:

This Big John welcomes you to Mississippi with open arms.  (June 2014)
This Big John welcomes you to Mississippi with open arms. (June 2014)

I also came across a “deconstructed Big John” at a place in St. Louis.  The legs were on display in the front and the upper torso sat in the backyard…with the original checkered shirt.

Big John Legs in St. Louis
Big John Legs in St. Louis
Big John Torso sits alone in the back yard in St. Louis
Big John Torso sits alone in the back yard in St. Louis

Of course, I have run into a few more in my travels.  There is a beer toting one in Sturgis, SD standing guard outside of the Full Throttle Saloon (yes, the one from the TV Show in 2013)

Muffler Man with mug of beer in Sturgis, SD.
Muffler Man with mug of beer in Sturgis, SD.

There is another one I came across in Hatch, New Mexico

Muffler Man in Hatch, NM
Muffler Man in Hatch, NM

While in Hatch I also came across another iconic fiberglass family…also created by International Fiberglass in 1963 when A&W introduced four choices of hamburgers and their corresponding Burger Family members: Papa Burger, Mama Burger, Baby Burger, and Teen Burger.  There aren’t many of these around.  I looked for the one in Hillsboro, Oregon in 2012 and couldn’t find it.  I was thrilled to see this one in Hatch, NM.

A&W Family in Hatch, NM
A&W Family in Hatch, NM

But the Muffler Men, Big John and Uniroyal Gal are not the only big fiberglass folk out there.  Ironwood, MI is home to the “World’s Tallest Indian Statue”, a 50 foot Hiawatha that was built in Minneapolis in 1964, transported to Ironwood.  It is huge and can be seen towering above town at the end of main street.

Hiawatha stands proud at the end of the road in Ironwood, MI
Hiawatha stands proud at the end of the road in Ironwood, MI
Hiawatha side view
Hiawatha side view
Hiawatha Stands 50 feet tall in Ironwood, MI
Hiawatha Stands 50 feet tall in Ironwood, MI

Another big fiberglass creation is the Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth, MN.  Added by Creative Displays (which later became F.A.S.T) in 1978.  At 55.5 feet tall, he is a tad larger than Hiawatha.

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

Not nearly as large, but yet another roadside icon that continues on throughout the U.S. is the Big Boy statue.  Actually, there are a couple of them.

Big Boy statue in the West can be seen at Bob's and JB's
Big Boy statue in the West can be seen at Bob’s and JB’s

As a young boy in Albuquerque, the Bob’s Big Boy was always a treat. We saw him in many places.  These Big Boy statues were another creation of International Fiberglass.  Many of them are gone now (there is even a site dedicated to Big Boy Graveyards).  Nowadays in Kentucky there is Frisch’s Big Boy, which is headquartered in Cincinnati (the original Bob’s started near Detroit in Warren, MI).  They have a different looking brother to the original.

Sumoflam with Big Boy at Frisch's in Richond, KY
Sumoflam with Big Boy at Frisch’s in Richmond, KY

Speaking of fiberglass burger guys, Seymour , WI proudly claims to be the home of the original hamburger and has erected a 12 foot fiberglass statue of “Hamburger Charlie” Nagreen, the supposed inventor. (there are claims by other towns)

Hamburger Charlie statue in Seymour, WI
Hamburger Charlie statue in Seymour, WI
Hamburger Charlie's dignified face
Hamburger Charlie’s dignified face

The town of Santa Claus, IN has a number of fiberglass statues of Santa, but the biggest and oldest (built in 1935) was made of cement.

Santa Claus stands 12 feet tall on a hill in Santa Claus, IN.
Santa Claus stands 12 feet tall on a hill in Santa Claus, IN.

There are a number of others around town.  Here are a couple of the Santas that hang around Santa Claus, Indiana

A Cranky Santa, stands about 9 feet tall
A Cranky Santa, stands about 9 feet tall, Santa Claus, IN
A resting Santa, about 6 feet tall, Santa Claus, IN
A resting Santa, about 6 feet tall, Santa Claus, IN

Finally, a few other guys I have run into on the road….

A fiberglass Uncle Sam in Hatch, NM
A fiberglass Uncle Sam in Hatch, NM
A 10 foot tall fiberglass pizza guy in Tennessee
A 10 foot tall fiberglass pizza guy in Tennessee
a Big Paul Bunyan in northern Wisconsin
A Big Paul Bunyan in northern Wisconsin

And this ends Part I of my Fiberglass Giants.  Part II will feature a few animals and birds.  Part II will cover some giant fish and other oddities.

 

Road Trip Home from Idaho – Day 3: Glendive, MT thru Enchanted Highway, Mt. Rushmore to Oacoma, SD

South Dakota Badlands
South Dakota Badlands in northern South Dakota as seen from SD Hwy 79

April 1, 2013:  We started the month of April off with a non-foolish bang as we got up fairly early to hit the road towards home, with a detour through North and South Dakota.

This is the route we took on this leg of the trip:


View Larger Map – Glendive, MT to Oacoma, SD

We first took a brief zip around Glendive to catch some of the sights…

Giant Dinosaur Sign in Glendive, Montana
Giant Dinosaur Sign in Glendive, Montana next to the museum
Mural at the Glendive Museum
Mural at the Glendive Museum
There were signs like these in various parts of Glendive
There were signs like these in various parts of Glendive

Glendive, Montana is surrounded by badlands and there have been many finds of dinosaur bones and tracks in the area, thus the signs, museum, etc.  We went to Makoshika State Park, which is a nice badlands area.  In fact, Makoshika is a Lakota word for “land of bad spirits.”

A peak in Makoshika State Park in Glendive, Montana
A peak in Makoshika State Park in Glendive, Montana
Badlands in Makoshika State Park
Badlands in Makoshika State Park
More badlands
More badlands in Makoshika State Park

From Glendive we headed east on I-94 towards North Dakota with a brief stop to get the sign for “Home on the Range”, an unusual sign in the middle of the prairie in North Dakota, east of Beach, ND.  It turns out that Home on the Range is a working Catholic-run ranch for boys and girls ages 12-19, especially those that were abused or come from broken families. It helps them readjust and cope.  Appears to be a great program.

Home on the Range sign in North Dakota
Home on the Range sign in North Dakota

We continued east until we got to Exit 72, which leads to the Enchanted Highway, one of those AWESOME adventure highways with some unique roadside attractions.  I recently did a full blog post just on this highway.  Therefore, I will only post a couple of photos here. Please see the blog post for the details on that portion of this trip.

The Enchanted Highway in Western North Dakota
The Enchanted Highway in Western North Dakota

The main attractions are shown below.

"Geese in Flight" - Stop #1 on Enchanted Highway. Off of I-94, Exit 72
“Geese in Flight” – Stop #1 on Enchanted Highway. Off of I-94, Exit 72
Enchanted Highway Stop #2 - 'Deer Crossing"
Enchanted Highway Stop #2 – ‘Deer Crossing”
Giant Grasshopper at Stop #3, "Grasshoppers in the Field"
Enchanted Highway Stop #3, “Grasshoppers in the Field”
Fisherman's Dream
Enchanted Highway Stop #4 – “Fisherman’s Dream”
Enchanted Highway Stop #5 - Pheasants on the Prairie
Enchanted Highway Stop #5 – Pheasants on the Prairie
Enchanted Highway Stop #6 - Teddy Rides Again
Enchanted Highway Stop #6 – Teddy Rides Again
Enchanted Highway Stop #7 - Tin Family
Enchanted Highway Stop #7 – Tin Family

After the trip down the Enchanted Highway, we arrived in the small town of Regent, home of the Enchanted Highway museum and gift shop, the Enchanted Castle Hotel and a couple of gas stations.  We had hoped to eat lunch there, but nothing was open.  And it was a Monday….oh well…

End of the Road - Enchanted Castle Hotel in Regent, ND
End of the Road – Enchanted Castle Hotel in Regent, ND…includes a drawbridge!

Still hungry, we decided to move on and head south towards Mt. Rushmore.  We went west on ND Hwy 21 until we got to Hwy 22 and then went south towards South Dakota.  We stayed on Hwy 22 until we got to South Dakota.

Welcome to South Dakota
Welcome to South Dakota
Scene from ND Hwy 22
Scene from ND Hwy 22 heading south
Badlands in Northern South Dakota off of HWY 79
Badlands in Northern South Dakota off of HWY 79 – also see the photo at the top of this post
Typical Landscape in North and South Dakota
Typical Landscape in North and South Dakota

We then followed SD Hwy 79 all the way into Newell, South Dakota, which is known as the Sheep Capital of the United States. We meandered into T.J.’s Cafe and Waterin’ Hole in Newell for lunch.  It was almost 3 PM so we were quite hungry.  This unique diner was what we needed. I loved some of the furnishings, as you can see below.

Livestock Sign - Newell, SD
Livestock Sign – Newell, SD
J J's Cafe in Newell, SD
T J’s Cafe in Newell, SD
Bar Stools (or should I say saddles) at TJ's Cafe in Newell, SD
Bar Stools (or should I say saddles) at TJ’s Cafe in Newell, SD
Wall Decoration at TJ's Cafe in Newell, SD
Wall Decoration at TJ’s Cafe in Newell, SD
Sign at the door of TJ's Cafe in Newell, SD. Bear in mind this is sheep country.
Sign at the door of TJ’s Cafe in Newell, SD. Bear in mind this is sheep country.
TJ's Cafe Lunch - a Reuben Sandwich and Sweet Potato Fries
TJ’s Cafe Lunch – a Reuben Sandwich and Sweet Potato Fries

After a nice lunch and some homemade pie for dessert, we were back on the road heading towards Mount Rushmore.  On the way we passed through Sturgis, SD, famed for its annual motorcycle event in August.  I had never been here.  We passed right by the Full Throttle Saloon, claimed to be the World’s Largest Biker Bar and also famed for its TV Show on TRU-TV, which, but the way, I have never watched.

Full Throttle Saloon in Sturgis, SD
Full Throttle Saloon in Sturgis, SD
Giant scrap metal chopper and rider at Full Throttle Saloon.
Giant scrap metal chopper and rider at Full Throttle Saloon

Lighting was not good for this shot, so see this photo for a better one (not my photography).

Giant Muffler Man turned cowboy at Full Throttle Saloon in Sturgis, SD
Giant Muffler Man turned cowboy at Full Throttle Saloon in Sturgis, SD
Sturgis T-Shirt Shop
Sturgis T-Shirt Shop

From Sturgis we booked it down to Keystone and to Mt. Rushmore.

Welcome to Keystone, SD
Welcome to Keystone, SD

We pulled through Keystone, SD at about 5:10 PM on our way to Mt. Rushmore.  As this was the off season, almost everything was closed.  We made it to the National Monument after closing time but still with daylight.  We were able to get up into the parking lot for free and got some good photos before the sunset.

Mt. Rushmore
Mt. Rushmore – April 1, 2013
Profile shot of George Washington
Profile shot of George Washington
Julianne and David at Mt. Rushmore, April 1, 2013 - no joke!
Julianne and David at Mt. Rushmore, April 1, 2013 – no joke!

We were thrilled to be able to see Mt. Rushmore.  BY the time we were done it was getting dark.  We headed east from there, passed by the Badlands National Park, by Underwood, South Dakota, home of the World’s SMALLEST Biker Bar, and by Wall Drug (which I have visited in the past – see my post from 2005).  We also passed by the big dinosaur skeleton being led by a human skeleton near Pioneer Village and could barely make it out as it had gotten dark.

Walking the Pet Dino near Exit 170 (Pioneer Village) on I-90. It is on the north of the freeway. I took this in 2005.

We finally got into Oacoma, SD, our stop for the night.  It was another long day, but was lots of fun!! Nothing like a full day of road tripping and seeing the sights and creating the memories!!