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Ken Fox and one of his statues.

Ken Fox's Great Statues of Auburn

Field review by the editors.

Auburn, California

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 1960s as a political statement (His bare-breasted Amazons, he said, celebrated strong women). Fox was a dentist by day, artist by night (His four kids helped mix the concrete). 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.

The Archer, circa 1985.

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 claimed a special spot right next to the entrance to his Family Dentistry practice.

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."

Ken Fox's Great Statues of Auburn

391 Auburn Ravine Rd, Auburn, CA
I-80 to Hwy. 49 exit. Head toward Grass Valley, two lights. Make a right, drive two blocks.
RA Rates:
Major Fun
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

The Coolie - Ken Fox StatueThe Coolie - Ken Fox Statue, Auburn, CA - < 1 mi.
Gold Miner - Ken Fox StatueGold Miner - Ken Fox Statue, Auburn, CA - < 1 mi.
Monument: Slabs of US 40 and Lincoln HighwayMonument: Slabs of US 40 and Lincoln Highway, Auburn, CA - 2 mi.
In the region:
Random Giant Woman's Head, Sacramento, CA - 31 mi.

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