Big John: Giant Native American.

Big John: Giant Native American

Field review by the editors.

Kingsport, Tennessee

The tall, skinny Native American in this Appalachian Tennessee town is not a Muffler Man -- he's older and bigger!

Big John: Giant Native American.

Unveiled in 1954, "Big John" stands 32 feet tall, and was built by John Barker, who stood him in front of his Honest John's gift shop and gas station. Five years later he moved the statue and his business a few blocks away, and in 1971 he sold both to Pratt's BBQ Barn restaurant. The building and statue have remained unchanged ever since.

Big John has a rigid pose with tense hands, and is held upright by an external frame across his back. His lack of clothes would freeze any real inhabitant in this mountainous part of Tennessee. His big, shiny, black shoes would be impractical on the forest trails.

In early April 2018 the statue's neck snapped, leaving it with a sagging head. We put Pratt's in touch with Mark Cline, fiberglass artist and creator of Route 66's Buck Atom statue. He at first thought that he could just nudge the head back into position and fiberglass it into place, but the 120-pound head -- filled with concrete -- had crushed the Native's neck.

Mark brought Big John's head back to his studio, cast a lightweight replica, and reattached it to a newly-fashioned neck on July 4, 2018. He repaired the original head as well, and returned it to Pratt's, which put it on display inside the restaurant.

Big John: Giant Native American

Pratt's Barn

Address:
1225 E. Stone Drive, Kingsport, TN
Directions:
Pratt's Barn. I-181 to Stone Drive exit. East about three miles, south side of the road.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Big Fries, Hot Dog, ShakeBig Fries, Hot Dog, Shake, Kingsport, TN - < 1 mi.
Purple CowsPurple Cows, Kingsport, TN - < 1 mi.
Giant Hand: Molecule MasterGiant Hand: Molecule Master, Kingsport, TN - 2 mi.
In the region:
Grave of Tiger Whitehead: Killed 99 Bears, Roan Mountain, TN - 30 mi.

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