If you’re driving Route 66, you’ll come across quite a few Muffler Men. But none are quite like Paul Bunyon the Hot Dog Muffler Man in Atlanta, Illinois. While most of these iconic statues are holding what they were originally designed for—usually a muffler or an axe—this roadside giant has been adapted to hold an equally large hot dog.
Like the others you’ll find on Route 66, this Muffler Man was created by International Fiberglass in Venice, California in the 1960s. While he was originally designed to hold an axe, Hamlet A. Stephens adapted the design to be more fitting for his business.
Beginning in 1966, the 19-foot-tall Muffler Man stood in front of Bunyon’s hot dog stand on Route 66 in Cicero, Illinois. There he became known as Paul Bunyon. And yes, the misspelling of “Bunyan” was intentional to avoid any copyright issues with other Paul Bunyan-themed establishments. Originally, the Muffler Man stood on the rooftop. But eventually Stephens moved the statue to the front of the restaurant so customers could more easily take photos with Paul (and even walk through his legs to enter).
In 2002, the restaurant closed and the Hot Dog Muffler Man needed a new home. While many Illinois communities were interested in the hot dog-holding giant, Atlanta, Illinois ultimately won out. Paul Bunyon arrived in Atlanta in 2003 and now sits on Arch Street, greeting Route 66 travelers — albeit a little further down the road than his original spot.
Tips for Visiting the Paul Bunyon Hot Dog Muffler Man
The Hot Dog Muffler Man is conveniently located a few blocks of Route 66 in the town of Atlanta, Illinois. This small town has embraced its ties to the Mother Road and features a charming Main Street for Paul Bunyon to oversee. Pop into the local shops and stretch your legs at Atlanta’s Route 66 Park after snapping a photo with this iconic Muffler Man.
Fun Fact: Paul Bunyon is one of three Muffler Men you’ll find in Illinois along Route 66. The others include the Gemini Giant in Wilmington and the Lauterbatch Muffler Man in Springfield.
Paul Bunyon Hot Dog Muffler Man, 112 SW Arch Street in Atlanta, Illinois
Share Your Thoughts
I would love to hear from you! Have you seen the Paul Bunyon Hot Dog Muffler Man? Which other Muffler Men have you spotted on your adventures?