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Big Chief.
Big Chief during his brief "featureless torso" period.

Big Chief: Interstate Muffler Man

Field review by the editors.

Irving, New York

The histories of Big Chief and his twin brother, who stands a hundred yards away next to the Big Indian Smoke Shop, are intertwined and may never be satisfactorily unknotted. Both are 23 feet tall and were built by International Fiberglass in the 1960s. Both may have stood outside or atop Iroquois Beer breweries in Buffalo and Jamestown, New York, which is where they acquired their "Big Chief" names. An oversized beer bottle sat on the upturned palm of one Chief; in the palm of the other may have sat a big beer can.

Big Chief.

By 2001 both Big Chiefs had cycled through several owners and had been purchased and moved to their current spots by members of the Seneca Nation, where they advertise discount gas and cigarettes on the Cattaraugus Reservation.

We asked Big Indian Smoke Shop advertising manager John "Cheech" Catalino why the now-empty-handed Chiefs were still displayed palms-up. He answered that when the Chiefs were palms-down it "looked like a Nazi salute." But the hand configuration hasn't been strictly enforced, at least for the Interstate Chief, who was palm-down as recently as 2012.

That ended on June 6, 2012, when morons yanked the Chief from his supports and tossed him into a ditch. The Smoke Shop temporarily moved its other Chief to the spot -- a more visible location -- while the Interstate Chief was repaired. When he returned in 2013 he was palm-up again, and his formerly ripped chest had been replaced with a featureless torso. In 2014 his old chest was back, and he was securely sandwiched between two billboards, and lit at night, to thwart any further toppling.

The two Chiefs are now virtually identical, and both are frozen in beer-less, Nazi-less, palm-up salutes.

Big Chief: Interstate Muffler Man

597 Milestrip Rd, Irving, NY
Behind the Big Indian Smoke Shop, facing the NY State Thruway. I-90 exit 58, west toward Irving. Turn right onto Hwy 5/US 20, then immediately bear right onto US 20 when Hwy 5 splits off. Make the next right onto Milestrip Rd. The shop is on the right.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Big Chief: Smoke Shop Muffler ManBig Chief: Smoke Shop Muffler Man, Irving, NY - < 1 mi.
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In the region:
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