Over the last half century or so, New England has been invaded by some larger-than-life characters. No need for alarm, though: The oversize interlopers are harmless and always ready to pose for photos (even though their poses seldom change). So next time you’re tooling around New England, keep an eye out for these roadside giants.
GUIDE TO NEW ENGLAND ROADSIDE GIANTS
PAUL BUNYAN STATUE
Perhaps the best known of all the New England roadside giants (thanks to a mention in Stephen King’s best-selling 1986 novel, It), this giant lumberman symbolizes Bangor’s claim of being the place where both the lumber industry and its superhero, Paul Bunyan, were born (a claim hotly contested by Minnesotans). The Bunyan statue, which is in Bass Park, in front of the Cross Insurance Center arena, stands a whopping 31 feet tall and tips the scales at nearly two tons. Not only is this fellow a giant, but he’s aged well, too: He was originally gifted to the city in 1959.
NEW ENGLAND MUFFLER MEN
In the world of roadside giants, the Muffler Men are the closest thing to royalty. These fiberglass figures are all roughly the same age, having been created by International Fiberglass in California between the mid-1960s and mid-1970s. In the years since, they’ve remained on the move, with several having taken up residence in New England. All the giants mentioned below are Muffler Men.
PATRIOTIC PAUL BUNYAN
Confronted with a town ordinance declaring that no sign can be more than seven feet tall, the House of Doors, the retailer that owns this 26-foot promotional statue, came up with an interesting workaround: It put a flag in Paul Bunyan’s hands and declared him a flagpole.
Looming over a Norwich strip mall, Big Bob had a big job when first recruited to stand outside a store called Surplus Unlimited. In the early 1980s, most of the stores in the complex were empty, and Big Bob was brought in to draw shoppers’ attention — a job he continues to perform today. Big Bob previously stood sentinel at an amusement park across town for about 20 years.
PAUL & BABE
At the Rumford visitors center, just up the street from the town’s famous waterfall, still another incarnation of Paul Bunyan can be found — in this case with his buddy, Babe the Blue Ox, by his side.
Standing some 30 feet high, this former representative of the Plantation Inn in Chicopee can now be spotted at Headquarters Bar in Agawam, Massachusetts.
THE BIG MAN
The Big Man has been around for years, but a 2017 cleanup has him looking bright and chipper again, at his post outside Green Valley Equipment Company in Hancock.
Initially installed at Benson’s Wild Animal Farm in New Hampshire, the Mohawk Indian later moved to Shirley to stand guard outside a nightclub called the Mohawk Club. Other businesses have since occupied that space, but the big guy has continued in his current position throughout.
MORE ROADSIDE GIANTS…
The 20-foot Big Indian was erected in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, in 1974, outside what was then the Big Indian Gift Shop (now Native Views). The colossus and his teepee remain one of the best photo ops along the Mohawk Trail.
In Canaan, New Hampshire, a 12-foot-tall Lumberjack marks the spot for Hammond Lumber.
In Hampton, New Hampshire, a Giant Pirate has retired to Buc’s Lagoon, where his peg leg serves as a miniature-golf hazard.
In Boothbay Harbor, Maine, the Giant Old Salt Fisherman greets visitors to the Brown’s Wharf Inn and Restaurant.
A fishermanstatue originally created as a prop for the TV show Murder in Small Town X now has a permanent home on the Eastport, Maine, city wharf.
Freeport, Maine’s Big F Indian, officially known as Chief Passamaquoddy, was created for the Casco Bay Trading Company in 1969. The business is long gone, but the 30-foot-tall statue remains.
Skowhegan, Maine, boasts the World’s Tallest Indian, a 62-foot-tall giant that was commissioned in 1969 in honor of the state’s 150th anniversary and is dedicated to the area’s Abenaki tribe. It now resides, somewhat conspicuously, behind the Cumberland Farms Plaza.
Do you have a favorite on our list of roadside giants?
This post was originally published in 2017 and has been updated.