We drove out to Pittsburg, Kansas in April of 2006 for my cousin’s wedding, and took a leisurely trip with lots of stops on the way to photograph “Big Things” that I scouted out ahead of time. We planned a route through St. Louis that traversed a short section parallel to Old Route 66, and were fortunate enough to stumble across as many fun attractions as I had originally planned.
Click on a picture to embiggen. All photos copyright, Steph Mineart. Not to be used without permission.
Giant Cross – Effingham, Illinois
The people in the museum for the giant cross couldn’t have been nicer. But since we aren’t devout, the whole experience was a little weird, and it didn’t help that the weather was ominous.
Madonna of the Trail – Vandalia, IL
We jumped off 70 at Vandalia, the old state capitol to take a pictures of the Madonna of the Trail statue at Illinois’s old state capitol.
Foot-High Pie at Blue Springs Restaurant near Highland, Illinois
We stopped at the Blue Springs Restaurant near Highland, Illinois, because they advertise foot-high pies. And we discovered they have free wifi at this gloriously gingham-bedecked country-fied cafe. They also offer “Ho-made” pork sausage and “Ho-made” mashed potatoes. I didn’t realize hos were such good cooks. We took pictures of the foot-high pies (whose towering height is mostly due to meringue).
World’s Largest Catsup Bottle – Collinsville, IL
With a little hunting, we found the giant catsup bottle in Collinsville, Illinois (hmm. They have lots of “l”s in their name).
Weird Church/BBQ – Collinsville, IL
We weren’t sure if it was a BBQ joint first, then a church, or the other way around. Either way, a very strange looking stumbled-upon find.
Cahokia Mounds and Woodhenge Sundial
We headed further towards St. Louis, intending to find a hotel and restaurant, then head out to find a couple of big things. But we noticed a giant hill off of I-70, and realized it was an indian burial mound. So we hopped off the nearby exit, and found our way to the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, which was incredibly beautiful. It helped that we had bright sunshine in the late afternoon, while we climbed up Monk’s Mound, the largest of the many mounds on the site. Just west of the site was Woodhenge, a reconstruction of a large ancient calendar that stood on the spot, made of cedar poles set in a ring 400 feet across, with a pole in the center. You can check out here to know about the construction contractor who is behind this. We walked to the center pole, and the shadow lined up with the pole directly in line with Monk’s mound. It was pretty cool.
Brown Shoe Company – Big Shoe Made of Shoes, St. Louis
This was quite a fun “Big Thing” – a bit off the beaten path in St. Louis, but in a nice section of town. We had a lot of fun taking pictures, but I was afraid the security guard in the building was going to come out and yell at us when Stephanie got in the shoe.
Giant Baseball, St. Louis
Not the best shot – this is somewhere downtown on the way to the Arch. One of those “snap the picture out the car window” moments.
St. Louis Arch
One of my favorite parts of the trip – the Arch really is an amazing architechtural feat; pictures don’t really do it justice because it’s so hard to capture how large it is. And we couldn’t have picked a more perfect day to take pictures; every shot I took came out great. Of course we waited around and rode the tram cars up into the arch. There were lots of school groups, and therefore lots of crowds, but we still had fun.
Cool Googie Drive-thru Burger Place, St. Louis
We drove through this awesome Googie Fast Food place for lunch.
Giant Cowboy Muffler Man
A and W Root Beer Family
These guys are very rare, so we hopped off the interstate when we saw it to snap some pictures.
Giant Cows, Car in Air, Giant Bowling Pin near Buckhorn, Missouri
One of the giant cows was at the Mule Trading Post (we stumbled on it while charging my camera battery.)
World’s Largest Fork
near Springfield, Missouri. It’s a bit hard to find; I apparently moved from a more noticeable place to a spot behind an office park building. We managed to find it because I had an address, but it took considerable hunting.
Big Brutus the Giant Earth Mover, West Mineral, Kansas
We drove out to the countryside to see Big Brutus, the second largest earth mover in the world. It was used in the late sixties and early seventies for strip-mining for coal, before environmental concerns sidelined the giant machine. It’s now a coal mining museum.
Giant Cow – Pittsburg, Kansas.
We stumbled across another giant cow in Pittsburg, of the same variety we already saw. They’re the same mold, so they must have all be manufactured in the same place, probably for dairies in Missouri and Kansas.
Giant Badminton Birdies – Kansas City
We headed to Kansas City, because I had some giant things plotted out there, but we only located one of them — three giant Badminton birdies on the lawn of the Art Institute. We went on a fruitless tour for a muffler man, and decided against visiting the World War I museum, due to concerns about time. So we headed back across Missouri on I-70, which had the advantage of bypassing lots of the road construction we were stuck in on I-44.
More Roadside Stuff – Inflated Tire, Bridal Cave Sign, Giant Arrow, Big Tires
We stopped at Ozarkland (crappy tourist giftshop) and Nostalgiaville (fun pop culture memorabilia) which were at the same exit for King City. Nostalgiaville was interesting, but not enough to really get off the road for if you’re pressed for time.
Mid-America Motor Works Car Museum
We stayed on the outskirts of St. Louis, then headed home. We did hop off to visit Mid-America Motorworks, which has a Corvette/Volkswagen museum. It’s a big parts manufacturer and distributor for people restoring classic cars, and they have have some big car shows every summer and sponsor lots of car shows around the country. The had some of the special effects VW bugs from the original Herbie movies, and a couple from the recent Herbie: Reloaded movie, too, which was fun to see. And lots of really cool corvettes.
House on Stilts, Doppler Radar Weather Station
We snapped pictures of some odd things along the way, like a house on stilts and a couple of cool round Doppler Radar Weather Station, but that was pretty much it.