Long before Route 66 was commissioned in the 1920s, settlers used the Beale Wagon Road to move west. Route 66 traced the same route used by the Beale Wagon Road through Arizona. The Arizona Route 66 Museum, located in a former Kingman power plant, recalls the history of the route from horse-and-buggy days to the Route 66 heyday in the 1950s and ‘60s.
For years I worked just down the street from the Gemini Giant that stands on the edge of the Launching Pad parking lot. I frequently ate lunch at the Launching Pad, a now-closed fast-food diner on Route 66 in Wilmington, Illinois, but I never thought about the history of the oversize figure. It turns out he’s one of many Muffler Men, 14- to 25-foot tall fiberglass advertising icons produced by International Fiberglass in Venice, California, from 1962 to 1972. The Gemini Giant was repainted to fit the Launching Pad space theme, the space helmet was added and a rocket placed in his hands.
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in U.S. Long Cuts. We are merging U.S. Long Cuts with Midwest Wanderer, adding a “Beyond the Midwest” menu option.