The Muffler Man in Lyons. (photo by Lisa Truesdale)

Back in the ’60s and ’70s, when road trips along newly created interstate highways were many a family’s summer vacation of choice, giant “Muffler Men” began popping up alongside the road, delighting and fascinating passengers in the panel station wagons cruising by.

These colorful and imposing figures, made of fiberglass and standing up to a whopping 25 feet tall, often promoted a roadside business that could provide travelers with what they needed, like food, lodging, tires, gas or, yes, a new muffler. Sometimes, though, they were purely decorative, like this pitchfork-toting guy who has been guarding a hay farm just east of Lyons along Highway 66 for decades. He’s one of fewer than 100 Muffler Men still standing in the U.S.

Give him a hearty wave the next time you’re passing through—panel station wagon not required.

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