Big Jim, Giant Gunslinger

Field review by the editors.

Bentleyville, Pennsylvania

James C. Krutz owned a welding shop in the little town of Speers, Pennsylvania. He was obsessed with the Old West -- even though in his life he never traveled far from Pennsylvania -- and spent over a year welding together a 20-foot-tall, 70,000-pound metal gunslinger, "Big Jim." He used his son, James Jr, as a model. The statue went up outside the welding shop on September 19, 1978.

Gunslinger Jim.
Gunslinger Jim.

A few years later James died, and James Jr followed not long after that, but Big Jim stood outside the shop for almost three decades.

James's granddaughters eventually sold the long-closed business and put the statue up for sale on eBay. The mayor of nearby Charleroi wanted to buy Big Jim as a town tourist attraction, but couldn't afford the liability insurance. The statue was instead purchased by motel owner Kamlesh Gosai, who trucked Big Jim eight miles west to stand outside the Bentleyville Best Western on June 9, 2007. The motel chain originally had locations only west of the Mississippi River, which makes the gunslinger a good fit.

Big Jim faces west, a deliberate positioning tribute by Gosai to Krutz. He's painted a uniform, rust-preventative orange, and holds a cocked six-shooter in his right hand and a Pennsylvania long rifle in his left. To give some sense of his scale, Big Jim's horseshoe belt buckle is in fact a real horseshoe, which James C. Krutz had hung over the door to his welding shop. The eagle that hangs from a chain on Big Jim's buckskin vest was part of an antique stove. Krutz had to buy the entire stove just to get the eagle for his statue.

Krutz put a lot of work into the details of Big Jim's fringed vest, although he told people that the hardest part of the sculpture to get right were the gunslinger's fingers. The limitations of welded steel make the gunslinger look like a robot, although not an almost-human, Westworld robot.

Big Jim has a chiseled jaw and zombie glass eyes. A plaque between the statue's legs spells out "Big Jim" in letters that mimic bullet holes.

Big Jim, Giant Gunslinger

101 Gosai Drive, Bentleyville, PA
Outside the Best Western. I-70 exit 32-B, drive south, then make a quick left onto Gosai Drive.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Madonna of the TrailMadonna of the Trail, Beallsville, PA - 5 mi.
Castle BloodCastle Blood, Monessen, PA - 7 mi.
George Washington's ThumbGeorge Washington's Thumb, Washington, PA - 13 mi.
In the region:
Lawrence Welk's Original Bubble Machine, Pittsburgh, PA - 21 mi.

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