If you pass by I-45 on your way to Dallas to Houston, or vise versa, you wouldn’t help but notice the giant white statue of a man. When we first passed I-45 going south to Houston with my Mom and sister, Deelow to visit our Aunt Vans, the sculpture caught my eye. Of course, we were driving around 70 to 80 mph so it was only a quick glimpse yet the statue made a good impression on me. I was so fascinated about who, or what that monument is and during that time, WiFi was not yet available on our phones so we couldn’t do any research online until we get to Houston.
It was after exploring Houston and the nearby Galveston that I finally set my mind on the statue. I did a little bit of research and discovered that it was Samuel Houston. Before our adventure in downtown Houston and San Jacinto Monument, I had little idea who the man was but now I do. When our Aunt Vans came back from her trip in the West Coast, the four of us headed to the small town of Huntsville which was less than an hour drive away from Houston and there were signs showing where to exit on–State Park Road 40 and left to South Sam Houston Avenue. The destination will be on your left.
We were greeted by a small white cottage, serving as the Statue and the town’s Visitor Center. However, we didn’t go straight to the visitor center; instead, we took a trail to the statue. The location, as I may say, was very beautiful and nature friendly. We were shaded by the trees from the summer Texas heat. The trail was full of grass and dirt but clean. The first part of the statue we saw was the head of Mr. Sam Houston.
The statue itself, standing at 67 feet tall, is the world’s tallest statue of an American Hero. The project started with the man name David Adickes, a native of Huntsville. The creator of “Big Sam” graduated from Sam Houston State University in 1948, then went to Kansas City Art Institute where he studied painting and then moved to Paris for two years to focus on art.
Residing in Houston in 1951 before going back to Paris, he became a professor at the University of Texas in Austin and traveled the world. Just in time for the 200th birthday of Sam Houston, he hoped to have the giant statue finished on March 2,1993 but it took longer than expected. The dedication occurred on October 22, 1994. Here is some history of the construction, according to its official site:
“The colossal statue is named “A Tribute to Courage” by David Adickes, but is often dubbed “Big Sam”. To create Big Sam, Adickes needed to transform 30 tons of concrete and steel into the bigger than life monument. A life size plaster version was fashioned during the fall of 1991. He started the project in early 1992, not exactly certain how he would accomplish the task. He admitted that It was really a work of engineering without any blueprint. The W.S. Gibbs Farm on 75 North in Huntsville was used as a construction site and offered in-kind by Sam Houston State University.
Big Sam consists of five layers of concrete laid over steel mesh attached to a welded steel framework. Standing proudly on a 10-foot Texas sunset granite base, the colossal statue of Sam Houston is visible from the south for 6.5 miles.”
There is detailed information of the construction process in the official website with the direct link here: Construction Photos
When we reached the statue, we were greeted by the wording, “A Tribute to Courage” by David Adickes. Missing some letters, we walked around to the front of the statue where we can see the freeway and Mr. Sam Houston. We took some pics with the Big Sam before heading back to the Visitor Center.
The Visitor Center consists of some rooms, including the gift shops where we found some souvenirs from Huntsville and biographies of famous Texans, Battles fought in Texas and of course, plenty information about Sam Houston. I bought a replica statue about 6″ tall before we left the shop. We walked around the center and then head to the car for our next destination, the town of Huntsville.
It was interesting to know that a man would have the patience and the will to accomplish this task. His dedication with the help of the community of Huntsville is successful. A well beloved hero of the Texans immortalized once again through this monument, and whoever pass the highway where Big Sam stand watching will notice him and he will always leave an impression on that passerby.