This morning I woke up and decided it was a good day to go explore some roadside attractions, so I opened up my Roadside America app and searched for nearby attractions. I settled on a Paul Bunyan-style Muffler Man—a 20-ft fiberglass statue—that was about a half-hour from where I live. I drove out to take a look, and it did not disappoint! Enjoy some of the photos I took of the Muffler Man and his surroundings, Don Parks' "Yard of Statues and Stuff"—a worthy roadside attraction in its own right.
The Roadside America website provides this overview of the Muffler Man phenomenon:
A tribe of titans, made of fiberglass and 14 to 25 feet tall, stands watch along the vibrant roadside landscape. They include exaggerated caricatures of lumberjacks, cowboys, and Indians, but the first statues we spotted held big car mufflers, so we named them "Muffler Men."
They also describe the basic physical characteristics of Muffler Men:
Material: Fiberglass. Knock on a leg to see if it's hollow. The fiberglass pieces generally include a head, arms, torso, and trunk/legs.
Height: From bottom of shoe to top of head or hat, between 14-25 ft. tall
Head: Well-chiseled facial bones, prominent brow and squarish "lantern" jaw. Crack a beer bottle over this guy's noggin and he wouldn't be fazed. Eyes may appear to stare blankly into the middle distance, or may be painted to leer down at visitors. Exceptions: Halfwits and Indians
Torso: Broad-shoulders, and familiar design of fake shirt folds. Pockets, suspenders, shirt patterns sometimes painted on. Exceptions: Indian models often barechested.
Arms: Short-sleeved shirt, well-articulated veins bulge on forearms. Bent at elbow, left palm faces down, right palm faces up — with an open grasp to hold an ax, muffler, golf club, etc.
Shoes and legs: Big, blocky shoes measure about 4-ft. from heel to toe. Pants exhibit familiar pattern of folds and creases.
Accessories: Muffler Men were originally sold with a variety of optional accessories — axes, pirate swords, golf clubs — but many businesses who own them today create their own.
Additionally, they provide this handy chart that explains the different types of Muffler Men: The Classic (Gas Station Attendant, Golfer, Hamburger Man), The Cowboy, Bunyan (Lumberjack, Woodsman), Indian (the Big Chief, or the Brave), Happy Halfwit (Mortimer Snerd, Alfred E. Neuman, S.F.B., Country Bumpkin), and Pirate (Swashbuckler, Captain Hook). And let's not forget the "Related Members of the Muffler Man Family," which include Uniroyal Gal, Viking, Mutants, Big John, and Big Friend.
The Muffler Man I saw today is of the type "Bunyan," which Roadside America describes:
Configured with most of the basic characteristics, standing 20 ft. tall. The Bunyan probably existed before the Classic. Distinguishing features include a head with a molded wool cap, and a heavy beard. Bunyans are frequently sighted brandishing single or double-sided axes. Shirt may be painted in a red plaid pattern. There is shorter variation of the Bunyan (14-ft. tall) that may wear a hard hat or miner's helmet.
The entry on the Phoenix Muffler Man also identifies his arm position as "Standard" and his accessories as "Double-bladed." Roadside America further describes the Phoenix Bunyan Muffler Man:
The Paul Bunyan Muffler Man towers in a suburban neighborhood, behind a fence in a private yard crowded with smaller fiberglass figures. Homeowner Don Parks acquired the 20-ft. tall lumberjack in 2007, after its former home at Lumberjack Building Materials on Broadway closed.
Don Parks is an avid collector of commercial promotional statues, and though he sells some he seems to always add even more (expanded to the yard of a home he bought across the street in 2012).
The Muffler man wields a double-bladed ax.
Roadside America also provides this map of Muffler Men all over the United States. I'd love to see them all! In fact, when I was photographing the Phoenix Muffler Man this afternoon, I ran into a couple who were also taking photos, and they told me excitedly that they have collected photos of at least half of the Muffler Men in the U.S. and have a goal to see every one. It was fun to run into fellow fans of roadside attractions—that definitely put a smile on my face!
Are you near any Muffler Men? If so, drop some photos in the boards!