#61 Elmsford, NY – Bunyan


Picture Credit: Debra Jane Seltzer RoadsideArchitecture.com

Picture Credit: Debra Jane Seltzer RoadsideArchitecture.com

In July 2012, I had the opportunity to go to New York to visit some Muffler Men that I had not seen before.  My first stop was the Orange County Fairgrounds in Middletown to see “Chief Towaco”. This was an Indian Chief model that had been there since the 1970s.  Originally, this statue was one of three Indian models installed at the Danbury Fair in Danbury, CT.  Vintage photos show that this statue always had this strange looking, duct taped body.  At that point, his head was in normal condition and stayed that way until the giant was taken down.


I arrived at the Orange County Fairgrounds on the 4th of July only to find out that the statue had been removed and trashed just two days earlier! I was told that the head was saved by one of the men who helped take the statue down. The rest of the body was hauled off to the dump. While I was at the Fairgrounds, I checked out the giant fiberglass cow head and some neat lights which came from the 1964 New York World’s Fair.


After that, I went to see the Muffler Man in Elmsford.  This Paul Bunyan model stands on North Central Avenue just off I-287. It has been there since at least the 1970s. From the style of the statue’s shirt sleeves and arms, this appears to be an early statue from the mid-1960s.  The statue’s right arm has been missing as far back as anyone can remember. It’s possible that this statue never had one or it was removed to fit next to the sign.

Picture Credit: Debra Jane Seltzer RoadsideArchitecture.com

Photo Credit Debra Jane Seltzer RoadsideArchitecture.com

The statue was originally painted the standard Paul Bunyan colors with a red shirt and blue pants.  By 2001, his shirt had been repainted gold.  Around 2004, the Amoco station was rebranded as a BP station.  The statue was painted green and yellow to match the new company’s logo. The statue’s eyes were also painted green and a flower planter was built around its feet.  The statue is a classic Paul Bunyan and not the same style as Phillips 66 or or Texaco Muffler Men so I have my doubts this giant was purchased for the oil industry. I have yet to find out if this statue has always been at this site or if it was moved there from somewhere else.


In 2007, a driver accidentally backed a truck into this statue and ripped the left arm off right below the shirt sleeve. The station owner put the arm in a storage room where it has remained ever since.  Although I begged to see the arm, the clerk would not allow it.  He said that the owner was going to reinstall the arm at some point.  While there are a few Muffler Men around the country with missing feet, I believe this is the only one with missing arms. At the time of my visit, the gas station was being remodeled and the pumps had been removed.  Hopefully, the statue is also on the owner’s “to do” list and that the left arm will be reinstalled soon.

American Giants Episode #8


Episode #8 wraps up our first road trip up old Route 66 into Chicago. Our last two Muffler Man stops are in Evergreen Park and then at Haunted Trails in Burbank. Using the GoPro, we discover what the Evergreen Park Bunyan is missing. We also find out that he even lost his head at one point. At Haunted Trails, we check out the Frankenstein statue and compare him to the standard Muffler Man model. We also pull out the GoPro and get some close-up shots of the statue that few people get to see.

When this episode was recorded, I believed the Frankenstein statue was made by FAST. However, I realize now that FAST has only been around since 1983. Most likely, it was Creative Display that made the Frankenstein statue.

#60 Oakwood Village, OH – Waving Giant


IMG_20120625_091501International Fiberglass did not use a specific name for this statue.  Therefore, I have nicknamed this particular model the “Waving Giant.”  It is described in International Fiberglass’ product listings as 22 feet tall, with a long sleeve shirt, necktie, dress slacks and shoes.  It mentions that the statue is lifelike and is also available with a suit coat.  These statues weigh 325 pounds and were sold for $3,000 in 1964 which equals $22,600 in today’s economy. It is not known if these Waving Giants were produced for a particular company or for a type of business.

IMG_7588This statue in Oakwood Village was  probably ordered for a business in Ohio.  In the 1990s, it stood at the Raff Road Raceway in Canton. In 2003, it was purchased by the owner of a graphics company.  The statue was repainted and installed at his shop in Oakwood Village by 2004.  The owner had been suffering from Muffler Man withdrawal after selling his Cowboy statue to the Crawford Museum of IMG_20120709_201347

Transportation and Industry in 2001. The Cowboy remained in storage there in Cleveland for several years until it was sold to Teako Nunn in Hatch, NM.  It now stands in front of Nunn’s RV business. The statue’s cowboy hat now rests at his feet.

These Waving Giant statues appear to be related to the Big Friend statues that were produced for Texaco in 1966.  While they are the same height and have the same hand positions, they are clearly made from different molds. I know of only two Waving Giants made with the suit coat option.  One has disappeared while the other one at the Plantation Inn in Springfield, MA may be moving.

IMG_20120625_091704The Oakwood Village Waving Giant is still standing on the wheeled platform that was patented and produced International Fiberglass. There are only a few statues still installed on these platforms.  There was another Waving Giant in Bartlett, IL that looked just like the one in Oakwood Village.  It had been missing since around 1999.  I was able to track it down last year.  It is still in storage near Bartlett.  The owner may put it back on public display soon.

IMG_3296Glen Goode of Gainesville, TX created two statues from a mold he made of a Waving Giant.  These statues were assembled with standard Muffler Man Paul Bunyan style heads that Glen obtained from nearby Muffler Men.

Thanks to Brian for letting me hop the fence and get some pictures of his “Waving Giant” in Oakwood Village and also to Glen Goode of Gainesville, TX for letting me photograph his collection of Muffler Men. Also to Debra Jane Seltzer for editing this article. 

Pioneer Man



The Pioneer statue is technically not a Muffler Man.  When RoadsideAmerica.com began documenting these giant roadside statues in 1996, the name “Muffler Man” was born.  It was used to describe the Paul Bunyan type statues and their look-alikes that we would later learn were produced by International Fiberglass.  RoadsideAmerica began producing t-shirts showing the four different types:  Cowboy, Indian, Bunyan and Half-Wit.  The bodies for these statues were all spin-offs of the original Paul Bunyan model.  International Fiberglass marketed these statues as Cowboys, Indians Braves, Indian Chiefs, Golfers, Astronauts, Mortimer Snerds, and other names.

IMG_4727We now know that the Pioneer statue was also originally produced by International Fiberglass.  However, the mold for these statues was entirely different from the Muffler Man variations.  The statues were developed in 1968 for the Wagon Ho! restaurant chain.  Early on the owners of the chain decided they wanted to visually catch peoples attention and turned to companies like Orion and International Fiberglass to make this possible.  Don Williams owner of Orion was a designer of air supported and inflatable fabric coverings and he designed and built the huge covered wagon canopies that covered the IMG_4638restaurant. International Fiberglass was hired to design and fabricate the giant teamster that would sit on the edge of the building in front of the canopy and drive the imaginary ox or horse team.  These seated statues are 15 feet tall and Wagon Ho! called them “Wagon Masters”.  The Pioneer’s hand positions suggest that the statue held reins or a whip but he never did.

The company opened its first location in Birmingham, AL in 1968 and moved its headquarters to St. Petersburg, FL later that year.  There were plans to build 51 restaurants by mid-1969 and another 200 units by the end of 1970.  Wagon Ho! even sold franchising rights to someone in Canada.  However, the company soon ran into financial trouble and had IMG_4726folded by 1970.  There were only about five locations built in Florida, the one in Birmingham, and a few others in the Vancouver, BC area.  The location in Birmingham retained the covered wagon building and statue and operated for a few years as a Kelley’s Hamburgers and later as Dilly’s Deli.  However, none of the buildings still exist in a recognizable form.  Only two of the statues are known to have survived.  The Birmingham statue now sits in front of a construction company in Moody, AL.  The other statue was originally located in South Pasadena, FL.  It is now installed at a used car lot in Pinellas Park, FL.

IMG_3711At some point, standing versions of these statues began appearing in North Carolina.  At Debra Jane Seltzer’s website RoadsideArchitecture.com, she concludes that Unique Fiberglass Figures either copied the seated statues or acquired a mold and added a different, standing lower torso. I am inclined to agree with her since I have not found any evidence that International Fiberglass produced these standing statues. There are five of these standing statues known to exist:  four in North Carolina and one in Tennessee.

If you know of any other Pioneer statues, standing or seated, I’d love to hear from you. I also want to thank Terry Nelson for sharing his pictures of Pioneer Man during construction at International Fiberglass in 1968 as well as his International Fiberglass promotional material. 

#59 Burbank, IL – Mutant Frankenstein

Screen Shot 2013-12-07 at 10.20.43 PMIMG_0689Just when you think you have figured out a pattern for Muffler Men, one will turn up that breaks the rules. International Fiberglass’ Muffler Men were often customized for the customer. Some people believe that the Frankenstein statue at Haunted Trails near Chicago was one of these made-to-order statues.  However, I don’t believe that this statue was produced by International Fiberglass.

The Frankenstein at Haunted Trails Family Amusement Park in Burbank, IL  bears a strong resemblance to Muffler Men.  His general stance and the wrinkles of his pants are a dead match. His hands are also positioned with the  right palm up, left palm down like the classic Muffler Man.  However, that’s where the similarities end. The Frankenstein head , shoulder pads, tie, and bloody axe are unique. The statue also has an iron bar stuck through his neck.

IMG_0682This statue’s history varies depending on who you talk to but it seems that he first appeared at Haunted Trails in 1977. Originally, Haunted Trails was known as “Happy Trails” and used a clown mascot. I have not seen any photos of this clown but I believe it was smaller than a Muffler Man and stood on the Happy Trails sign. Shortly after the park changed its name and adopted a monster theme, the Frankenstein statue arrived.  According to one source, it cost the park $5,000.

Screen Shot 2013-12-07 at 10.23.01 PMWe can already rule out that International Fiberglass made this statue since that company had folded by the early 1970s.  It has been reported that the statue came from Wisconsin.  The logical conclusion is that Creative Display made the statue.  That fiberglass statue manufacturer and precursor to FAST, was located in Sparta, WI at the time.  Since the statue’s pants, proportions and general stance closely mirror the typical Muffler Man, we have to assume that Creative Display got its hands on a mold or made one from a statue and then customized to make this Frankenstein.

IMG_0706Although this statue was apparently created as a one-off and was built much later than the others, I still refer to it as a Muffler Man. He was the last statue that we visited on our Illinois roadtrip in the summer of 2012.  The American Giants Episode #8 video will close out this trip.  The series will now move on to some of our most recent adventures.

Thanks to Debra Jane Seltzer (RoadsideArchitecture.com) for her input and editing help. American Giants Episode #8 will cover our trip to Haunted Trails. Episode has a release date for Dec 19, 2013

American Giants Episode #7


IMG_0483We’re happy to release Episode #7 after a long weekend of editing. This episode continues to follow us on our journey through Chicago. The first stop on this leg is at Ced’s Muffler and Brakes on Grand  Avenue.  This statue at Ced’s is known as a Mr Bendo.   There are a couple of other Mr. Bendos elsewhere in  the U.S.. We make an interesting discovery on the roof of the building using our GoPro camera. We also make a quick stop at the “Eye Care Indian” that has been on a Chicago rooftop for a very long time.  This episode wraps up with a quick preview of Episode #8.  You will see more of Bo and Neto in that video as we move on to some of the more famous Muffler Men and try to figure out their histories. Episode #8 will be the last in the Chicago series.  Episode #9 will cover our recent trip to Dodge City, KS to visit the Dennis Hopper Muffler Men.

Plantation Inn Man Auctioned for $11,500


Screen Shot 2013-11-13 at 11.39.38 AMThe Plantation Inn Man may be witnessing some of his last sunsets at the hotel located in Chicopee, MA. I was recently alerted by one of my blog followers that the statue was going up for auction. Thankfully, I had the chance to see him in July 2012.  I got some great shots of him then and got some information about his history. The statue was built by International Fiberglass in Venice, CA as a Pizza Man. The statue was installed in the mid to late 1960s at a pizza shop in Framingham, MA.

Screen Shot 2013-11-12 at 12.03.16 PMIn 1970, Mario Cantalini bought the statue from the pizza shop for $2,000 and moved it to his Mutual Ford dealership in Springfield, MA..  The dealership used the slogan of “Buy American” so the statue was transformed into an Uncle Sam character and the statue’s chef’s hat was replaced with a top hat. The statue stood on the lot until 1988 when the dealership closed. The property was leased to a used car dealership and the statue was put in storage. The owner was not interested in keeping the statue since the “Buy American” slogan didn’t fit well with all the foreign cars they were selling. The statue was taken down and put into storage.

IMG_20120709_200051Cantalini was involved in many businesses over the years.  He ventured into the hotel industry in the early 1990s at the age of 74.  One of the hotels that he owned was known as the Chicopee Motor Inn when it was built in 1958.  The hotel was designed by the highly acclaimed architect, Morris Lapidus.  It went by several names over the years before Cantalini bought it and renamed it the Plantation Inn.

The hotel’s heyday was in the 1960s when it was known as the Schine Inn.  It was a very popular place with celebrities like Muhammad Ali and Judy Garland.. In 1999, the hotel’s most famous guest arrived.  The Uncle Sam statue was taken out of storage and transformed into a Southern gentleman.  The statue’s suit and top hat were painted white.  It was installed in front of the hotel facing a busy interstate exit.

Screen Shot 2013-11-13 at 11.45.37 AMAfter 14 years at this location, the giant statue will be moving again. It was sold at an auction on Friday, November 15th.  According to an article in The Republican “Plantation Man” sold at auction on Friday to Charlie Arment Jr. of Charlie Arment Trucking in Springfield. The auction generated allot of interest and over 100 people were present to witness the event. Charlie won the bid at $11,500 outbidding others as far away as KY. He was sketchy when giving future details but plans to keep the giant in the local area. According to the auction’s advertising, the statue was sculpted by Sacha Schnittman.  While Schnittman did sculpt the Texaco Big Friend, I have not heard or read anywhere that he created the Waving Giant statues like this one.  However, it is possible.

IMG_4650I have yet to find a photograph of this statue in its early days as a Pizza Man in Framingham.  International Fiberglass started selling this particular model in the mid-1960s.  A few of them still exist in Chicago, IL and Oakwood Village, OH. There are also a few in Texas with non-standard heads and hands. I recently spoke with former International Fiberglass painter, Terry Nelson.  He showed me photographs of statues being assembled  in Venice, CA.  One of the heads (see photo at left)  wore a chef’s hat and could have been a Pizza Man.  This may have been the same style hat that the Plantation Inn statue wore originally.  I have not been able to find anything about “Too-Fy” or “Stoo-fy” which is printed on this hat.   If anyone knows the correct name of the business and where this statue was located, I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks to the Plantation Inn for providing information about the statue during my 2012 visit.  Also to The Republican newspaper (see article herefor the information and reference to my blog. Debra Jane Seltzer (RoadsideArchitecture.com) for her input and editing help. Additional thanks to Hell’s Acres blog for letting me use their picture of Plantation Inn Man when he stood at Mutual Ford.