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The History of Big John

Big John was an original idea, born from the creativity and enthusiasm of Helper citizens, the Mayor and the City Council. In February of 1964, many of the movers and shakers of Helper decided the city needed a civic attraction. On February 27, 1964, the first meeting for the formation of a museum was held, where Councilman Al Veltri was appointed chairman. Things snowballed from there.

By March 12, 1964 the Western Mining Museum was on its way. It was discovered that a firm, – International Fiberglass in Venice, CA. – made large fiberglass figures for promotional purposes. The company was a fiberglass boat builder that had begun making tall advertising figures in 1963. With some discussion, the order went out and created the largest resident of Helper. Paul Bunyan became a miner.

Of course the miner still needed a name, but that didn’t take long. In 1961, the song of fame (the first was “16 Tons”) about mining won the best Country Song and Album of the Year. It was of of course “Big Bad John”. What other name was fitting for the 18 foot miner in Helper except “Big John.”

Big John is a proud symbol of pride for the mining industry. John also signifies the memory of all those who have given their lives in the local mines since the late 1890’s. John is the foundation of civic pride and strong work ethic for a unified community.

Stand was built from rails, spikes, and plates gathered from Castle Gate Mine Tram Way.

Located outside the Helper Civic Auditorium at 19 South Main Street in Helper, Utah.