Ken Fox's Great Statues of Auburn
The Great Statues of Auburn are true roadside colossi, and represent an eclectic mix of subjects -- ranging from Amazon archers, to a coolie pushing a wheelbarrow, to a nude man wrestling with chains. To say that they are larger-than-life size is an understatement: the biggest is 42 feet tall and weighs over 120 tons.
The statues are unadvertised, which only adds to your initial shock when they loom into view. A few stand in a parking lot of an otherwise ordinary street. The parking lot belongs to the former office of the dentist who built the statues, Ken Fox.
Fox began raising his statues in the late '60s, as a political statement. For the first few years the town was against him, even rerouting its school buses out of eyesight. Tempers have since cooled, and now a 45-ton gold miner by Fox stands in Old Town Auburn, commissioned and paid for by its citizens.
The other outlying statue is Fox's "Chinese Coolie," an old Asian man in a conical hat pushing a wheelbarrow. It was moved from Fox's parking lot in 1989 to the other side of I-80 at the old train station and Chamber of Commerce building.
Fox has kept his naked and minimally clad works closer to home. He paid tribute to the female form with his statue "Freedom of Prayer," a kneeling, nude young woman with her arms clasped skyward. Though smaller than most of the others, it claims a special spot right next to the entrance to his Family Dentistry practice (the practice has since transferred to a new dentist, judging by the sign).
The folks at the Chamber of Commerce told us the woman who originally posed for Fox worked in his office -- and she objected to recent calls by townspeople for the statues to be clothed.
Other roadside attractions, Fox is quick to point out, are of far flimsier construction than his, and will disappear with the passage of time. Not so the Great Statues. "Mine," he says, "are solid concrete, like the highways."