Yeehaw! You might have to shout that a little louder to reach the ears of this giant cowboy. Once “Texas’ Biggest Texan” he’s still got a leg up above most others. This is the Tex Randall Statue in Canyon, Texas. It’s one of the best roadside attractions in Texas!
The Tex Randall Statue was built by William “Harry” Wheeler (1914-1997) in 1959. The local shop teacher created the 47-foot tall, seven-ton giant cowboy out of cement and steel to advertise his Corral Curio Shop on US 60, a business he opened to attract Route 66 travelers while supplementing his income. Later, a six-room motel was added to the property.
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The giant cowboy was originally outfitted with a real Western shirt, bandana, and oversized authentic denim Levi’s jeans. To top it off he was crowned with a big Stetson hat, a must for any cowboy of any size. The giant cowboy statue was built with one leg up, to lean over the western store and between his giant fingers he held an appropriately large cigarette.
Eventually, The Texas Department of Transportation rerouted US 60, and the local traffic that came with it. Wheeler’s closed for good, and the property was sold in 1963.
So what happened to Tex Randall after the business closed?
As what happens to many abandoned roadside attractions, he fell into disrepair. The real clothes he was wearing got destroyed by the harsh panhandle winds. Someone shot the giant cigarette right out of his giant hand. And his left boot was destroyed when a semi-truck crashed into him.
By 1987, this giant cowboy was a giant mess. But, still a beloved icon of Randall County, a “Save the Cowboy” campaign was launched to restore and preserve this roadside attraction. The real clothes were replaced with a more durable painted-on bodysuit and a new mustache and face were drawn on. The cowboy was, in fact, saved, and also renamed (or, at least named) Tex Randall, after the county in which he resided.
Unfortunately, by 2010 Tex Randall was once again not looking so hot under the Texas sun. His painted-on skin and clothes were faded from the harsh winds and parts of the statue were starting to crumble. Hope for repair was in sight when a local businessman bought Tex, but plans were abandoned when he found out it would cost $50,000 to move him. And other fundraising efforts fell massively short of the price tag that matched this cowboy’s size.
Luckily, there was still hope for this giant Texas cowboy. In 2013 the Texas Department of Transportation earmarked $300,000 to turn the land surrounding Tex Randall into a park and the local Canyon Main Street Program raised enough money to repair the big statue. He was repaired in 2015, with work completed in December 2016. In 2017 Tex Randall was named an official Canyon landmark.
Tex Randall was once known as “Texas’ Biggest Texan,” but, while he is still a mighty big cowboy, his stetson hat is no longer the highest in the sky. So who is the biggest cowboy in Texas? That honor belongs to the Sam Houston Statue in Huntsville, Texas. At 67-feet tall on a 10-foot tall base, it is known as the “world’s tallest statue of an American Hero.”
We also have to give a shout out to another giant cowboy in Texas: the 55-foot tall Big Tex who makes an annual seasonal appearance at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas.
Visit this fun roadside attraction on a Texas road trip or on a Route 66 road trip through Texas. It’s not far from Amarillo, so be sure to go and grab a steakhouse dinner or lunch at the Big Texan while you’re there!
Tex Randall Statue
Address: 1400 N 3rd Ave, Canyon, TX 79015
Cost: Free to See
Hours: Always Visible