Recently we interviewed Chandler O’Leary of the fantastic illustrated travel blog Drawn the Road Again. We are thrilled to be sharing a series of O’Leary’s illustrations of roadside attractions, along with their place on Atlas Obscura, in a summer series.
The World’s Largest Axe (illustrated by Chandler O’Leary/Drawn the Road Again)
Up in Nackawic, Canada, a quiet little park has been pierced by the World’s Largest Axe. Created in 1991, it commemorates the small town’s appointment as the Forestry Capital of Canada, and stands at nearly 50 feet tall in a concrete stump as tribute to that lumber history.
As its plaque reads: “This giant axe symbolizes the importance of the forest industry, past, present and future, to the town of Nackawic and the province of New Brunswick.” Chandler O’Leary of Drawn the Road Again writes on the illustration that she happened upon the axe “by complete accident,” before giving it a fine portrait against the St. John River with a few trees that might shudder in terror if they knew what was beside them.
The axe with its 55-ton, 23-foot steel blade was made in Woodstock, New Brunswick, and journeyed to its permanent site early on a Sunday morning so its domination of the highway wouldn’t cause too much trouble. There’s said to be a time capsule somewhere inside all that metal.
It isn’t the only giant chopping implement in the world, with the Big Axe made of wood in 1979 in Kew, Australia, not to mention the numerous giant Paul Bunyans standing guard around the United States. However, the World’s Largest Axe keeps its title. Yet if that time capsule ever emerges, it will be to a very different industry. In 2004, the town’s pulp mill closed, with workers later suing for their lost income. The axe may someday outlive the lumber business.
Dead-on view of the axe (photograph by Dennis Jarvis/Flickr)
Follow more of Chandler O’Leary’s travels through illustrations at Drawn the Road Again. Stay tuned for more illustrated roadside attractions on Atlas Obscura, or revisit Salem Sue, Wall Drug, and Roswell.