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Hands in Prayer and line of American flags.

Giant Hands in Prayer

Field review by the editors.

Webb City, Missouri

These sizable civic mitts are a distant second to the giant praying hands outside of Oral Robert University in Oklahoma. But they are still impressive -- an estimated 220,000 pounds of steel and concrete, 32 feet high, atop a 40-foot-high man-made hill -- especially since they are out here, unannounced and unexpected.

They were sculpted over a period of several years by local artist J.E. "Jack" Dawson, and are more fully clasped than the Oral Roberts paws, which merely rest against each other's fingertips. Dawson built the hands in his back yard, then had them hauled on a flatbed truck to their current spot. They were dedicated with much local fanfare on April 28, 1974.

Secret entrance into the hands.

The Hands have a secret, although not a big one. If you walk up the hill and around the back, you'll likely see some graffiti (spray-can artistes must have figured that defacing the public side gets noticed faster and cleaned off) and a makeshift plywood panel partially blocking an opening... leading inside the Hands! A spiritual foci for local stoners? The cramped, off-limits crawlspace is not tempting even if your tetanus shots are up to date....

Webb City promotes itself as "The City of Flags" and the Hands are surrounded by them.

In November 2020 a memorial wall was added to the site, its tile mural recounting the history of the Hands' creation. Jack Dawson attended the wall's unveiling. A local reporter asked him why he'd built the Hands. He said they were a response to the 1960s, which had been "a bad time for our country."

Giant Hands in Prayer

W. Tracy St., Webb City, MO
South side of US Hwy 71/Hwy 171//E. McArthur Drive, at the intersection of Ball St., just east of where Hwys 71 and 171 split.
Don't crawl inside the hands! (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
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Nearby Offbeat Places

Kneeling MinerKneeling Miner, Webb City, MO - < 1 mi.
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In the region:
Big Steer, Lamar, MO - 26 mi.

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