Mortons Gap Project Complete!

Front CompareThe Mortons Gap Project is finished! After more then a year of restoration work, we have completed the restoration and taken the Muffler Man back to his home in Kentucky. I want to thank everyone who supported this project with pledges, as well as those who donated their time and skills. Although the project was way more work then I ever dreamed it would be, the final result was also better then much better then I expected.

MMNWS PROGRESS 9-26 American Giant4.jpgI first visited the giant in August 2011, after seeing him listed on Roadside America. It was during a second visit, the following year, that I first had the idea to restore the giant. In the summer of 2013, I started shooting emails back and forth with Mark Cline and he said he could make me the missing body parts. After that conversation, I think I realized that this really could happen and planning began in earnest. Our first Kickstarter was launched in May of 2014, and although it ended in failure a month later, we did manage to raise $1,296. By this time, Neto and I had already picked up the head and arms from Mark Cline, so failure was not an option. After Mortons Gap MM new openadjusting the rewards a bit and updating our graphics and video, we launched the Kickstarter again in early September. We decided that we were going to do this no matter what the outcome, and figured visitors to the kickstarter should be able to see our commitment, so we picked up the giant in Mortons gap the same week we launched. Things went much better the second time around and Kickstarter even made us project of the day!

photo 1-15Over the next year we worked on the project whenever we had a chance. Some weeks found us working on him every evening while others, he wasn’t even touched. His restoration was juggled around on our busy work schedule, looking back on it, I am amazing at how many hours the guys donated to getting this done. Despite all the donated labor, the cost of fiberglass, resin and countless supplies was daunting. None of us had ever tackled anything like this before and we were constantly buying tools and supplies needed to pull off the job.

IMG_9084By the spring of 2015, we had completed repairs on the huge cracks and holes that were scattered across the giant. The next step was sanding the giant down, and it felt like it took us years to get that done. Even a week before delivery, we were still sanding bits and pieces of the giant, to try to get the smoothest surface possible. As I mentioned before, none of us had done anything like this before, and since the start of the project we were concerned about painting the guy. We had some estimates done on him, and were floored at how high the cost was. In the end we decided to paint him ourselves and I’m glad we did. From June until October, we didn’t touch the giant because of our busy work load. So the last two weeks have been an all out push to get the giant done and back to Kentucky.

Side CompareWe returned the giant to the hillside on November 15, 2015, and the owners were blown away at the giant’s transformation. We had a nice thumb_IMG_9267_1024turnout of supporters and family members that showed up to watch the giant go back up. From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank all of you who watched this project unfold and supported us with likes on
instagram, and encouraging comments. I want to thank all the supporters, and for your patience. I also want to thank Mark Cline for his help and support, as well as the guys at Roadside thumb_IMG_9321_1024America, for letting their viewers know about the project. Debra Jane Seltzer of Roadside Architecture, has also been a huge help, and I have found her knowledge of these giants invaluable during research and restoration. I want to thank the Loven family for letting me take their giant for a year, and for their support of the project, as well as all the pledgers, and those of you who came out to watch the giant go up. Last but not least I am so thankful for my crew, Michael Younkin, Will Worf and Ademar Neto, for the long hours they have sunk into this project, we have all found this to be very rewarding!

Drones and Michigan Giants

In October, American Giants got a chance to take a quick trip up to Southern Michigan, to see some Muffler Men. Casey Jones the Muffler Man, was a custom job much like Jesse James in MO, that was probably made for a railroad themed amusement park or museum in Boyne Falls, back in the late 60s or early 70s. Today he stands at the Ed Lowe foundation, and is not generaly assessable to the public so we thought we’d give you a close up look. Ed Lowe purchased the giant at an auction in the mid 70s, and moved him to the foundations camp area, where Casey is surrounded by railroad cars.

We also made a stop in Bangor, MI to see one of the Carpet Vikings that International Fiberglass made. The giant is difficult to get to because it is on the ball field and behind a few locked gates, but this is not an issue if you have a drone (as always, we obtained permission first). American Giants has been experimenting with using drones to get some different perspectives on Muffler Men. It works much better then a go pro on a stick, and apparently we arn’t the first to have the idea, check out this awesome video by Robert Peak of George & Pam Farnham’s “farm of colossi”, in Ungar, WV.

Mortons Gap Project Update

thumb_IMG_8886_1024The project is still alive! Just want to assure all of you that we have not forgotten about the Mortons Gap Muffler Man. By the end of June we ran out of time to work on the giant, and we had to store him for the rest of the summer. In early October we moved him to his final workshop before he returns to Kentucky.

thumb_IMG_8889_1024The last few weeks we have been very busy working on him a little each evening and during the weekends. As I stated before, sanding is complete and we are now putting down first coats of primer to detect any holes or pitting. We have fixed most of these areas and are about ready to lay down the final coat of primer before painting begins.

We also have been working very hard on connecting the body parts and figuring out the best way to do this. Mark Cline’s extra parts are not an
exact fit and we found that one arm is larger then the sleeve it is supposed to fit into. When we got the giant, his sleeves were both cracked and split and therefore the arms thumb_IMG_8885_1024easily slid inside. Now that we have repaired these cracks the sleeve holes are smaller. So we have fabricated a fiberglass plug that we will attach to the end of the arm and this plug is custom made to fit the sleeve hole. The idea actually came from the large 21 ft muffler men models and how their arms fit. We have also spent allot of time working on attaching the head and finally after a lot of cutting, we have got a real good fit. We are currently attaching a metal plate that will make it easy to bolt the head on.

thumb_IMG_8876_1024After we attach the head and arms we will focus on painting. We plan to restore and keep the original lettering on the giants chest that says, “Implement Speciality Company”. We are hoping to take the giant back to Mortons Gap in mid November and will post a full report and pictures when we do.

#68 Lake George – Worlds Fair Bunyan

IMG_4718IMG_4720Shortly after International Fiberglass purchased Bob Prewitt’s molds, they realized the Paul Bunyan statue was a good seller. The giant could be configured into a few different kinds of giants, and it wasn’t long before they were selling cowboys, Indians, half wits (snerds), and pirate versions of the giant. However, the Paul Bunyan remained the most popular during the 10 years that I.F. was in business. Today, more of these versions can be found then any other.

International Fiberglass sold dozens of the Paul Bunyan Muffler Man in the early 60s, one such Lumberjack was ordered in 1963. It is not known who ordered him, but we do know he was

Bill Cotter of

Oregon Pavilion lumber show! Photo: Bill Cotter of

ordered in connection with the 1964 Worlds Fair, in Flushing Meadows, NY. He was delivered to the North East corner of the fair, during construction of the Oregon Pavilion, on the banks of the Flushing River. The Oregon Pavilion highlighted the timbering industry, and featured climbing, chopping, logrolling and double bladed axe throwing. Spars of Douglas fir trees up to 120 feet long were set on the bank of the river, and used for many of the shows the pavilion put on. The surrounding bleachers seated 1, 250, and admission was $1.00 for adults and 75 cents for kids. Nearby was a display of Oregon industries, and a souvenir shop.

002 - Oregon - Paul Bunyan

Photo: Bill Cotter of

Screen Shot 2015-06-14 at 11.31.24 PMThe giant lumberjack was set up in front of the pavilion next to the gift shop, and he was a perfect fit for the timber theme. Sometime during the course of the fair, the giant lost his axe and a replacement was ordered. Pictures taken during the fair show the giant with his axe, and at other times without one. A little known fact is that a large fiberglass bear was also ordered from international fiberglass, and stood just a few feet in front of him, on the other side of the gift shop.

Food court and Simmons Building. The lumberjack is just behind the kiosk on the left.

Mastro Pizza and Simmons Building. The lumberjack is just behind the kiosk on the left. Photo: Bill Cotter of

The Lumberjack faced the large blue and white Simmons Building. On the first floor, five displays followed man’s progress from rock pillow to comfortable mattress in his effort to obtain a good night’s sleep. On the buildings upper floors visitors could rent for one dollar a private rest alcove on a half hour basis. The view from these alcoves overlooked the lumberjack Muffler Man and the Oregon Pavilion behind him. Also not far away stood Mastro Pizza, the Hall of Education, and the famous Fountain of the Planets.

bunyan-2At the end of the New York Worlds Fair in 1965 there was a mass exodus of buildings and attractions. Many of the giant figures at the fair, such as dinosaurs and a huge Viking, all had to find new homes. The Lumberjack was no exception and somehow Harry Horn of Lake George, became aware that he was for sale. Harry, who had recently opened “Around the World Mini Golf” in Lake George, was looking for large figures and attractions to improve his new mini golf course. He arrived in Flushing Meadows to pick up the giant after

Harry Horne in Lake George, NY

Harry Horn in Lake George, NY

paying about $1,600 for him. In his later years, Harry reminisced how he arrived there, only to realize that no one was going to help him load the giant. He had to sit there for a bit, and strategize how he was going to get the Paul Bunyan home. Thankfully the lumberjack was in two pieces, and somehow Harry managed to haul the giant to Lake George.

Harry’s children remember the arrival of the Paul Bunyan, and after
it was unloaded in the backyard of the family home, they promptly climbed inside the large fiberglass head. It wasn’t long before the giant was reassembled and set up at the mini golf Summer 2011-252course. He has now stood there for 50 years, and everyone in the area knows about the Paul Bunyan. He has been repainted a few times over the years, and even survived flooding from hurricane Irene. Sadly Harry passed away last year at the age of 91 after a very impressive and full life. We can thank him for saving the NY Worlds Fair Muffler Man and taking such good care of it for the last 50 years.

IMG_20120709_150955I had the privilege of visiting the Muffler Man in July 2012 and found him in remarkably good condition. He stands next to a sign that lets visitors know that he once stood at the 1964 New York Fair and he could possibly be the most visited Bunyan of them all!

Special thanks to Terri Horn for the background information and family pictures of her Dad. Also a special thank you to Bill Cotter of for the use of his Worlds Fair pictures he took of the lumberjack when he was a child. 

Stan the Tire Man Uniroyal Gal, Comes Down in Mt Vernon, IL


Uniroyal Gal statues are the female versions of Muffler Men and were produced by the same company. In the late 1990s, before the history of these statues was known, began calling them “Uniroyal Gals”. That is what they are commonly called today.

IMG_4758These statues are 18 feet tall and weigh 230 pounds. In the 1960s, International Fiberglass made dozens of these statues for the Uniroyal Tire & Rubber Company. The “Miss Uniroyal” statue held a sign which read “Uniroyal Tire” in her upraised left hand. She wore a watch on her right wrist. Many people have conjectured that she was modeled after Jackie Kennedy, however, there is no evidence to support that. The statues came with a platform and trailer which made it easy to move them around to different gas stations.

A rare picture of the Uniroyal Gal in 1968 while in Urbana, IL Photo - Len Davidson

A rare picture of the Uniroyal Gal in 1968 while in Urbana, IL Photo – Len Davidson

The Uniroyal promotion ended in the late 1960s and the statues were destroyed or sold to different businesses. International Fiberglass began marketing these statues with the new name of “Miss America”. In 1970, you could purchase one of these statues for $3,150. She came wearing a bikini but you could pay extra for the add-on skirt and blouse.

Two of these statues have been in Illinois since the late 1960s. The one in Peoria is still there and was featured in our American Giants Episode 4 video. The other statue which was in Mount Vernon was removed this week. Around 1970, the Mount Vernon statue was purchased from a gas station and installed at Stan the Tire Man. Stan Koziara, the owner, and Dale Lowery installed the statue next to the shop’s Paul Bunyan Muffler Man. The Paul Bunyan statue was later moved to the Stan the Tire Man in Salem, Illinois. In 2007, it was moved to Rocky Mount, NC.

IIMG_6776n the 1970s, the Mount Vernon Uniroyal Gal wore a white blouse and red skirt. Her trailer was kept nearby but it was stolen at some point. In April 2015, it was announced that the store would be closing on June 1. Many people contacted Stan about the statue and made offers. In the end, it was Bruce Kennedy of Bell Plastics in Hayward, California that bought her on June 15. We recently covered Bruce’s statues in American Giants Episode 11 video. His Muffler Man collection consists of two Paul Bunyans, a Half Wit, and a Cowboy.

IMG_6850Bruce contacted me about his purchase of the Uniroyal Gal statue and asked if we could help take her down for shipment to California. This was something we hadn’t done before but we felt we knew what was involved. On the morning of June 19, we got to work. There were two support bars attached with bolts to her shoulders and four bolts on each foot. It took more than an hour to remove the rusted bolts. Then, we gently lowered her to the ground with a pulley system. The four of us then loaded her into the trailer.

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 11.52.43 PMThe people of Mount Vernon and Southern Illinois have lost a rare piece of 1960s roadside Americana. It is always sad when one of these statues that has been standing at one place for so many years is relocated. However, the silver lining is that this Uniroyal Gal will be well taken care of, and displayed where many people can still enjoy her and see her with the other Muffler Men. Bruce plans to restore her and we are looking forward to seeing her again.


The Uniroyal Gal arrived in Hayward on September 2, 2015 and joined Bruce’s collection.

I want to thank Bruce Kennedy for his support of American Giants as well as the people at Stan the Tire Man who were very helpful and accommodating while we were up there taking her down. Also a big thank you to Debra Jane Seltzer for her help in editing this article and fact checking. 

#67 Lake George – Magic Forest Bunyan

IMG_20120709_134051IMG_20120709_133939It’s been awhile since I have worked on my progressive list of Muffler Men sightings, so lets pick up again with sighting #67 in upstate NY. The Bunyan Muffler Man at Magic Forest, was the last one I visited at the amusement park. Like the rest of the Muffler Men there, it is hard to say where he came from. While some of them can be traced back to the Danbury Fair, I have had no luck tracing his origins. He is the only Muffler Man located close enough to the fence, that you can get some good pictures if the park happens to be closed or you don’t want to pay for admission but still see a Muffler Man. He is called a Bunyan because of his lumberjack look and axe but IMG_20120709_134239interestingly he does not have a knit cap. He does however have a beard and boots common to the bunyan Muffler Men but also lacking the buttons for suspenders. International Fiberglass often made custom combinations of their Muffler Men, and I am guessing that is what happened here. After a close look at his axe I am guessing that it is original from International Fiberglass and looks to be in great condition. Often the axe was the first item to disappear and many replacements were made to keep the giants from going empty handed. 

American Giants Episode #11

photo 3-9We are happy to announce the launch of the second season of American Giants, with this extended episode from one of our road trips last year. Instead of the normal 10-15 minutes, episode 11 runs for a full 20 minutes and covers Muffler Men from Flagstaff to Hayward, CA. This episode centers on Bruce Kennedy of Bell Plastics and his growing collection of Muffler Men and other fiberglass giants. It was great to sit down with Bruce and get his story and Neto and I had a great time shooting this episode. I have also shortened the open sequence for the second season, since I think we all know the basics by now of where Muffler Men came from. We have 9 more episodes lined up for this season of American Giants, at this point I am uncertain if there will be a third season or not. If you enjoy these episodes, let us know!