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Toilet Paper Hero of Hoover Dam, photo by Jill Lagan

Venus de Milo. Christ the Redeemer. Abraham Lincoln. The Toilet Paper Hero?

Sure, it's easy to pay homage to the famous figures of mythology, religion, and politics by chiseling them in marble and stone. But what about the unsung heroes of history? What of the everyday Joes who do the real work to make great things happen?

This impulse, to honor the little guy, drove sculptor Steven Liguori to create your favorite roadside attraction—winner of a Sunset Travel Award and featured in our upcoming June issue—The Toilet Paper Hero. The eight-foot-tall bronze, which stands sentinel in downtown Boulder City, Nevada, honors Alabam, one of the "sanitation engineers" who cleaned outhouses during the construction of Hoover Dam.

Curious to know more about the quirky statue, we sat down with Liguori to learn about Alabam, from head to toe.

*Steven Liguori’s friend, a dam worker’s son, gifted the artist with the sweaty, torn-up Stetson his father wore to work. The sculptor gave that hat to Alabam.

*The artist sculpted the face first because it inspired him—“the compassion in his eyes reminded me of my father,” Liguori says.

*Liguori’s daughter, Cristina, posed for him in a pair of overalls so he could perfectly capture the look and shape of the work pants.

*The sculptor strove to make The Toilet Paper Hero realistic, right down to the buttons on his shirt and overalls.

*For the sculpture’s dedication, Liguori and his daughters made “Alabam’s World Famous Toilet Paper”—200 TP rolls wrapped with the man’s story and photo—and distributed it to onlookers.

*Fittingly, Liguori mixed copper cable from the dam’s original electrical system into the bronze that he used to create the sculpture.

*About once a year, the artist visits The Toilet Paper Hero to wash off the bird poop, wax the sculpture, and polish it until it shines.

 

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