Gemini Giant Muffler Man

Wilmington, Illinois

IllinoisRoadside Attraction

The Gemini Giant is a 28-foot tall muffler man who originally stood on Route 66 outside the Launching Pad restaurant in Wilmington, Illinois. He weighs in at a whopping 438 pounds: not counting the base of the giant and the 8-foot rocket he holds in his hands!

This fiberglass space man is one of many muffler men on Route 66. Muffler Men roadside attractions are fiberglass giants who stand anywhere from 14 to 25 feet tall. Each has a similar design and was built between 1963 and 1972 by International Fiberglass in Venice, California. With signature stances, these big men stood outside of muffler shops and other businesses to call attention from the road.

In 1956 the Wilmington business opened as Dari Delite, a small shop that sold hot dogs and ice cream. In 1960 John and Bernice Korlic took over the restaurant and renamed it The Launching Pad Drive-in. To capitalize on their celestial moniker, the couple had the fiberglass spaceman made by International Fiberglass and named him the Gemini Giant via a local contest.

The Korlics ran the Launching Pad and maintained the giant for 47 years until they sold in in 2007. For years after, the Wilmington Gemini Giant went through rough times and had an uncertain future. 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 the best roadside attractions on Route 66. But, with the business closed, and no potential buyers in sight, the fate of the big green man was still up in the air and no one knew how much longer he’d keep standing.

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. In May 2019 this Illinois Route 66 muffler man even got a facelift and was restored with a fresh coat of paint.

While it looked like the Gemini Giant and The Launching Pad Drive-In were saved for good, their good fortune didn’t last long.

During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the restaurant closed down, the owners split up, and the business was once again put on the market. In March 2024, the Launching Pad was gutted and the Gemini Giant, along with all of the fixtures and memorabilia from the restaurant, were placed in an online auction. The auction went live under the threat that if a $100,000 reserve wasn’t met, the Gemini Giant would be destroyed.

In the end, the Route 66 muffler man was sold to the Joliet Area Historical Museum for $275,000 and immediately donated back to the City of Wilmington. The purchase was made possible from a grant issued to the museum by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity for that purpose.

IThe city, with help from the American GIants Museum in Atlanta, Illinois, removed the giant from the location where it stood since the 1960s and put it into storage. Future plans are to move the giant to the entrance of entrance to South Island Park, just a mile west of the Launching Pad on Route 66.

Last modified: April 21, 2024
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Gemini Giant Muffler Man in Wilmington, Illinois Route 66 Roadside Attraction

Gemini Giant Muffler Man

S East St, Wilmington, IL 60481

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Photos of the Gemini Giant Muffler Man in Wilmington, Illinois

Gemini Giant Muffler Man in Wilmington, Illinois Route 66 Roadside Attraction
Gemini Giant Muffler Man in Wilmington, Illinois Route 66 Roadside Attraction
Gemini Giant Muffler Man in Wilmington, Illinois Route 66 Roadside Attraction
Gemini Giant Muffler Man in Wilmington, Illinois Route 66 Roadside Attraction

Know Before You Go

To make the most of your visit to the Gemini Giant Muffler Man in Wilmington, Illinois, here are some things to know before you go.

  • The Launching Pad Restaurant has been closed since 2022, but the Gemini Giant is still visible.
  • Parking is available in the restaurant’s parking lot.

Where to Stay Near the Gemini Giant Muffler Man

Complete your travel itinerary and get a good night’s rest after a good meal with a stay at one of these Illinois Route 66 hotels.

Cindy Lyn Motel

If you’re driving Route 66 in Illinois you’ll probably be spending your first (or last) night in Chicago. But if you’re looking for something outside of the city and a little closer to the Gemini Giant, Cindy Lyn Motel is a solid choice. The Cindy Lyn Motel opened on Route 66 in 1960 and has been known as the “last motel before the city” for more than 50 years.

Super 8 by Wyndham Dwight

If you’re stretching your Route 66 itinerary and are looking to spend the night between Chicago and Springfield, the Super 8 by Wyndham Dwight is a solid choice. Conveniently located off I-55 and close to Historic Route 66, this newly renovated property and pet-friendly hotel offers free WiFi and free breakfast just minutes from this roadside attraction.

Congress Plaza Hotel

Located near the start of Route 66, the Congress Plaza Hotel has been in operation since 1893 and is a welcoming stay for the beginning of your journey on the Mother Road.

Palmer House Hilton

Located just steps from Route 66, Palmer House Hilton is a luxurious historic hotel with all the modern conveniences you could desire alongside award-winning services. Palmer House was built in 1925 and was the city’s first hotel with elevators, electric light bulbs, and telephones in the guest rooms. The French neo-classical influences of the design give this landmark its distinctive charm.

Enhance your visit to Chicago with a tour! Whether you love history, architecture, or family-friendly adventures, there are plenty of options for everyone.

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