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The Colossus of Roads

Myth and Symbol along the American Highway

2000
Author:

Karal Ann Marling
Photography by Liz Harrison and Bruce White

The Colossus of Roads

A rich and lively examination of this curious and pervasive tradition.

A rich and lively examination of this curious and pervasive tradition.


Karal Ann Marling visits dozens of roadside attractions, viewing them analytically, intellectually, and enthusiastically, tracing each one through folklore and literature. Heavily illustrated, this book takes the reader on the road to examine these treasures and all that they represent.

A fascinating and funny catalogue of roadside attractions and their place in American culture.

Religious Studies Review

The world’s largest prairie chicken, a restaurant shaped like a fish, a massive Paul Bunyan, an enormous ear of corn-roadside sculpture is a uniquely American phenomenon, and these strange and wonderful figures are scattered along highways and standing in small-town squares, particularly in the Midwest.

These odd, oversized attractions have become destinations for travelers. Whether it serves art, commerce, or local pride, the colossus is a stopping place where the everyday rules of reality are suspended and the observer can gain insight into the way these communities imagine themselves.

Karal Ann Marling visits dozens of these roadside attractions, viewing them analytically, intellectually, and enthusiastically, tracing each one through folklore and literature. Heavily illustrated, this book takes the reader on the road to examine these treasures and all that they represent.

The Colossus of Roads

Karal Ann Marling is professor of American studies and art history at the University of Minnesota. She is the author of numerous books on American culture, including Designing Disney’s Theme Parks (1997), Graceland: Going Home with Elvis (1996), and George Washington Slept Here (1988).

The Colossus of Roads

A fascinating and funny catalogue of roadside attractions and their place in American culture.

Religious Studies Review

The Colossus of Roads

Contents

Preface

TALL TALES, TRADEMARKS, AND THE GREAT GATSBY
Midwestern Space Defined
THE HOAX, THE AD, AND THE FRONTIER
Mythological Giants Arise to Fill the Vastness of the American West
ANXIETY, NOSTALGIA, AND WORLD'S FAIRS
Colossi Mark the Borders of a Modern America
FRONTIERS, HIGHWAYS, AND MINIATURE GOLF
The Tourist Becomes a Roadside Colossus
THE GREAT AMERICAN ROADSIDE
Tourist Sculpture in Minnesota
POSTCARDS, SOUVENIRS, AND COME-ONS
Wayside Giants Sell the American Dream
SCALE, PATRIOTISM, AND FUN
Crossing the Last Frontier of Fantasy
NICK CARRAWAY, PAUL BUNYAN, AND BABE, THE BLUE OX
Why Gatsby is "Great"

Notes
Minnesota Colossi
Map
Index
Other Colossi
Index
Photo Album