George Washington.

Giant Washington Head and Aircraft Carrier

Field review by the editors.

Onaway, Michigan

Welded out of steel plate with a literal ton of steel rods for hair, the Giant Head of George Washington was sculpted by Tom Moran of Moran Iron Works in 1998. As his reference guide, Tom used the black-and-white portrait of Washington on the dollar bill, which is why he gave George's head a grayish color.

GW's ponytail.

Tom told us that he considers the sculpture to be "a huge failure," and that the head to him looks more like a robot or Marlon Brando than George Washington.

The head, like all of Tom's large sculptures, was unveiled on a float in Onaway's 4th of July parade. Tom then sat it in a field next to his Iron Works, hoping, he said, to permanently truck it up to Da Yoopers, as he had previous July 4th creations such as Big Gus, the World's Largest Chainsaw. But to Tom's dismay, the head quickly became a landmark, and Tom soon found that he couldn't move Washington without upsetting the town.

"People came up to me afterward saying, 'Yeah! I think you should do another President,'" Tom recalled. "And I told them, flatly, No, I am never going to do anything like that again." (Note: Tom eventually had a change of heart and built giant heads of Presidents Abe Lincoln and Gerald Ford.)

Aircraft carrier.

In 2013 the Washington Head got a neighbor in the field: a 70-foot-long steel replica of the World War II aircraft carrier USS Bunker Hill. The real Bunker Hill had been sold for scrap in 1973; Tom's version was a 40th anniversary tribute to its memory. The 2013 Bunker Hill was far more sculpturally advanced than the 1998 George Washington, but Tom still felt that he could have made it better. And despite the passage of time, he still doesn't like the Washington head.

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Also see: Welded Wonders: Big Art of Tom Moran

Giant Washington Head and Aircraft Carrier

Address:
11739 M-68, Onaway, MI
Directions:
West of town. On the north side of M-68 one mile west of its blinker light intersection with M-33. In an open field just east of the Moran Iron Works.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Giant Metal Heads and World's Largest Steering WheelGiant Metal Heads and World's Largest Steering Wheel, Onaway, MI - < 1 mi.
32-Foot-Long Steel Sturgeon32-Foot-Long Steel Sturgeon, Onaway, MI - 1 mi.
Giant Crucifix and Nun Doll MuseumGiant Crucifix and Nun Doll Museum, Indian River, MI - 19 mi.
In the region:
Pink Elephant, Mio, MI - 49 mi.

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December 14, 2018

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