The Gemini Giant is a 28-foot tall muffler man who stands on Route 66 outside the Launching Pad restaurant in Wilmington, Illinois. He weighs in at a whopping 438 pounds: not counting his base of the giant 80-foot rocket he holds in his hands!
This space man is one of many muffler men spread throughout the United States.
The Wilmington Gemini Giant has gone through some rough times, with an uncertain future, over the past few years. The Launching Pad closed down in 2010. With the drive in restaurant and muffler man statue for sale no one knew when, or if, it would reopen and what would happen to the Route 66 icon.
In 2016, the restaurant went to auction, but failed to sell because the reserve wasn’t met.
Though the Launching Pad restaurant closed, the space-age muffler man statue still stood and drew crowds of road-trippers looking for roadside attractions on Route 66. But, with the business closed, and no potential buyers in site, the fate of the big green man was still up in the air and no one knew how much longer he’d keep standing.
Luckily, in 2017 the Illinois Gemini Giant’s fate changed: Holly Barker and Tully Garrett bought the business and decided to restore the building and keep the famous mascot.
The Launching Pad reopened on April 16th, 2018 as a Route 66 Welcome Center and gift shop. Eventually, the kitchen was restored and the restaurant was brought back as well.
The Gemini Giant muffler man in Wilmington, Illinois is here to stay! In fact, in May 2019 this Illinois muffler man got a facelift. He was restored with a fresh coat of paint! This allotted fans to come check out a site that hadn’t been seen over 50 years: the Gemini Giant without a helmet!
The helmet had to be removed to paint his face (and with it, a football that was stuck inside for over ten years was also removed!). I took a mini road trip to Wilmington (it’s only about an hour and a half drive outside of Chicago) to check it – see the photos of the Gemini Giant with his helmet removed below!
We unfortunately didn’t stick around to try one of the Launching Pad’s hot dogs, pot roast sandwiches, fruit pies, or ice cream sundaes (I’ll have to return again when it’s less crowded!) but on the way home from our mini Route 66 road trip we did get some fried chicken at another Mother Road institution: Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket.
Photos of the Gemini Giant in 2007:
Here are a few photos of the Gemini Giant and Launching Pad restaurant from my first trip there back on July 13, 2007. I visited again on a very quick Illinois road trip in 2010 where I also visited the Leaning Tower of Niles and the Agricultural Crash Monument.
Gemini Giant at the Launching Pad Restaurant
Location: 810 E Baltimore St, Wilmington, IL
Cost: Free to see. Lunch/dinner extra.
Hours: Always visible.
Date: April 9, 2010