Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Painted Pumpjacks (nodding donkeys, pumping units, horsehead pumps, beam pumps, sucker rod pumps (SRPs), grasshopper(!) pumps, thirsty birds, jack pumps) of Coalinga

"The Iron Zoo" 

Who woulda thunk we could get two posts' worth of content from Coalinga, CA? Well, folks, we were as surprised as y'all. Here, for your viewing pleasure, we present the work of Jean Dakessian Jones. She painted a bunch of these so-called grasshopper pumps as an art/local boosterism project. The plan was that the slick (ha) roadside attraction would bring travelers off the Interstate and into town. Her project met with mixed success, as the hamlet today is not what you'd consider a tourist mecca. (However is it much more of a tourist mecca than Mecca, CA...a dusty, somnolent town on the edge of the Salton Sea)

Interesting webbit for all the webbit fans out there: both the Iron Zoo and the Horned Toad Derby are mentioned in the 2004 compendium  Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Encyclopedia Of The Bizarre:
Amazing, Strange, Inexplicable, Weird And All True! (pages 60 and 100, respectively)


Parm said...

As goofy, inspired-by-one-person roadside attractions go, this one is pretty good! I suspect my own version of a bee-themed pump would have differed considerably from what we see here, but that is a minor quibble. Makes one yearn for what they didn't attempt, however:

- An Engleknot Face endlessly waving his hand;
- A mosquito driving home its proboscis into some hapless victim;
- A Singer sewing machine;
- A hammer driving a nail.

To say nothing about what they might have achieved in a fenced off, adults-only area!

Gablefanno1 said...

I had forgotten about these! I designed the turtle pumpjack when I was going to West Hills College from 1972-1974. These were written up and photographed in a magazine that Chevrolet put out, kind of like Via that AAA provides.
Thanks for the pleasant memory!

Gablefanno1 said...

I designed the turtle pumpjack when I was attending West Hills College in Coalinga, 1972-1974. I had forgotten about these! I have a magazine published by Chevrolet that spotlighted all the differently decorated pumpjacks. Thanks for the pleasant memory.

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