It’s not hard to find people who are nostalgic for the heyday of hippie culture, but only one man went so far as to create a permanent memorial to the lifestyle and ethos of peace-loving, free-thinking, far-out dudes.
The city of Arcola, Illinois sits near Amish country, and could generously be described as conservative. So when local railroad worker, Bob Moomaw began creating his personal ode to hippies, using welded and painted junk, it raised a few eyebrows. Moomaw wanted to honor the hippie culture that he credited with allowing the everyday American to be free in their thoughts and actions. To this end, he created a large wall out of metal bars and other junk that he painted to look more colorful. The monument as it stands today was actually started in 1992. Moomaw would work on the cacophonous piece until his death in 1998.
The monument was also built to act as a sort of symbolic timeline, with a shorter portion of the wall on either side. On one side this represents Moomaw’s youth and growing up, eventually rising to the pinnacle of the work, which symbolizes the heyday of the hippies. The work, once again slopes into a shorter section which represents the decline of the culture into the modern day. Each foot of the 62-foot-long memorial is said to represent one year in Moomaw’s life.
Oddly enough, according to the plaque near the monument, Moomaw himself was not a hippie, despite sporting the beard and ponytail that so many aging hippies wore. To Moomaw, the monument was a thank you to the daring artists and free spirits that allowed us to grow intellectually even if he could not be a part of their movement.
Know Before You Go
The Hippie Memorial is on North Oak Street adjacent to the railroad tracks.