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I'm sure you've noticed the imposing yet friendly statue looming over you here on Main Street. This is Big John! He represents those miners who lost their lives in the various mines located in and around Helper. Big John is also affectionately known as the “Biggest Coal Miner in the World.” This statue is 18 feet tall and is constructed of fiberglass. The International Fiberglass Company, located in Venice, California, created thousands of similar large statues for various industries. In 1964, Mayor Chris Jouflas and the City Council of Helper decided the town needed an attraction to honor its mining history. The city placed an order for a coal miner statue, and the community chose to name him Big John based on the Jimmy Dean song “Big Bad John.” The Helper Civic Auditorium, which you see Big Bad John overseeing here, is one of two buildings on Main Street built during the Great Depression. It was constructed in 1936 as a project of the Public Works Administration, or the WPA, as it was known. The WPA was a program created during the Great Depression to stimulate the economy by employing local labor. Architects from Salt Lake City, Scott and Welch, designed the building in the international style. The Helper Civic Auditorium remains in use today and houses the Helper City Library. The front portion of the building serves as the City Council Chambers, which are connected to the auditorium. Keep heading south on Main Street to get to Helper’s second WPA building.
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