Cowtown Landmarks

History and fun facts about the landmark icons on the Cowtown properties and farm.

 

Part 1: The Cowtown Cowboy

 

 

There is probably nothing more recognizable, or memorable, here at Cowtown today than our Cowboy statue.  He is known far and wide and is the most welcomed sight as you approach Cowtown from the west.  For many it gives a feeling of "home" -- home to Cowtown, home to a different way of life, home to a local institution that so many hold close and have memories of throughout their entire lives.  Many selfies (before such a word existed) and group pictures have been taken at the feet of this handsome cowboy.  Rain, heat, snow, hurricane... he's weathered it all with surprising minimal damage.

 

Our cowboy is a part of the family of nationally famous "Muffler Men".  These roadside icons grace roadways, tourist spots, businesses and "off the beaten path" locations throughout the country.  They originated as advertisements for various businesses, standing tall and gathering much needed roadside attention from potential traveling customers.  Before social media, you had to see it to know about it and these giants helped get the job done.  Cowtown wouldn't be the same without our Cowboy statue standing tall and greeting all who visit us.  Next time you are here, snap a selfie with our giant and share it on Facebook or Instagram @cowtownrodeonj -- we'd love to see them!

 

 

8 Fun Facts about our Cowboy:

 

8)  The statue is made of fiberglass, but he is not all original today (see #4 below).  He stands approximately 25' tall and each of his feet measures a whopping 4' in length!  He currently wears a classic red snap-front shirt with a (painted on) brown vest, blue jeans, leather belt, pistol and holster, lace-up boots and a cowboy hat.  Manufactured by International Fiberglass, his accessories are stock but the company did a lot of customization on the statues they sold.  There is opinion that his face/head was a custom spec due to his distinct, dashing good looks.

 

 

7)  Stoney Harris - Grant's grandfather - bought our Cowboy at auction in 1975 from Sid Broughton Dodge in Wilmington, Delaware.  He was known back then as "Marshall Sid".  Photo below courtesy of roadarch.com

 

 

6)  Our Cowboy has recently drawn some interest by social media hobbyists who track the whereabouts of lost, forgotten, restored, and re-purposed Muffler Men.  Your can follow the Instagram page @americangiants and enjoy their pictorial showcase of Muffler Men from across the country.  The page's founder hasn't gotten to Cowtown USA to see ours in person... yet. 

 

5)  Do you Geocache?  Did you know our Cowboy is one of the locations in this popular trend?  Geocaching is a fun activity taking you on a scavenger hunt in your own town, or even across the country.  Read the clues provided in the app and see if you can find the hidden treasure -- sometimes hidden in plain sight.  Write your name on the list inside the vial and maybe even leave a trinket treasure inside for the next scavenger enthusiast to find.  All those times you passed our Cowboy, and you didn't know he was part of a national hide and seek game!

 

4)  In 2004 a wind storm cut our Cowboy in half... only his legs were left standing and one arm broke in the fall.  Grant Harris vowed to fix him and it took a couple years but it got done.  He is now bolted together at the waist to stand the test of time.  A photo of our (half) cowboy got national exposure from being featured on MSNBC This Week in Pictures in Nov/Dec 2004.  We haven't been able to locate the online photo gallery archives from that time period, but the photo was taken by Ms. Lori Nichols.  If someone has it, we'd love to see it!

 

 

3)  Why are his hands like that?  Well, originally these statues were designed to hold a muffler (ie: "Muffler Men") for advertising.  Through the years the statues have been converted to other characters but the classic hand position of right palm up, left palm down, has remained the same.  We did have a lasso in his hands for many years, but it was just too tempting for all the Jersey Shore tourists.  They would pull over and jump on the lasso, try to swing from it and the risk of injury was too high so we had to retire his lasso.  At Christmastime he holds an evergreen wreath in his hands (since that doesn't seem to be as tempting to hang from).  We still get hoards of people stopping to take their picture with our Cowboy.. and even more so with our cow statute (more on that another time).  There is a little talk about bring back some sort of lasso, but that remains to be seen.

 

2)  Another injury to our Cowboy was when the brim of his cowboy hat broke off.  We fixed it and made it stronger than ever - with galvanized steel.

 

1) Look out for a face lift in the coming months!  Some changes will be made with his wardrobe and he will be getting a full fresh coat of paint.  His shirt will now be solid red - no more brown vest.  Our guy is a rarity and any Muffler Man is hard to find for collectors today so we are trying our best to keep him restored and in good condition.  There are only 180 Muffler Men remaining.  Check out this link with some pretty interesting stuff about buying (or selling) one of these giants.

 

We hope you learned something new about the unofficial mascot of Cowtown.  Thank you to roadarch.com and usagiants.com for providing some details about our favorite Cowboy. 

 

Stop by any Tuesday or Saturday when the Cowtown Farmers Market is open from 8-4 (all year around) or visit him before any rodeo May 28 - September 24, 2016.  Stay tuned for Part 2 in our Cowtown Landmark Series.  Hint: Good Food and Gas -- this landmark left quite a memory behind.