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McKinleyville World's Largest Totem Pole - California


totem pole

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McKinleyville, California
World´s Tallest Totem Pole weighs 57,000 pounds, the base weighs 214,000 pounds and the pole stands 160 feet high. It was carved from a 500-year old redwood tree from Pacific Lumber Company. It is located in the parking lot to the left and slightly behind Safeway on Central Avenue not far from the Arcata-Eureka Airport (in McKinleyville). Built out of the largest tree ever hauled across a California highway, the totem pole was carved to commemorate the grand opening of the Mckinleyville Shopping Center. Designed in 1962 by Ernest Pierson of Pierson’s Building Center in Eureka, he and a friend carved the monster tree in the parking lot of the center. Pierson called his totem a potlatch or celebration pole to celebrate the opening of the McKinleyville Shopping Center.


We did our research before flying to McKinleyville from Los Angeles and decided to make the totem pole our first destination after renting a car at the airport and then heading to Eureka. McKinleyville has several major roads with shops and restaurants, a KMart and grocery stores. The totem pole is not difficult to see as you drive along Central Avenue. But if you weren't looking for it, the landmark would be easy to miss.


It rains fairly often in this Humboldt County region and was raining the day the photo above was taken. So tall is the pole that you can't get the detail of it in one photo. A collage of three images is included above.


From the archives of the Arcata Eye, billed as America's most popular obscure small town paper came this headline, "Tanked at the Totem Pole."  The one-line stated: At 5:39 p.m., Engine 5 responded to the Totem Pole behind Safeway in McKinleyville for an intoxicated juvenile.


McKinleyville features a regional airport,  Azalea Reserve with beautiful native azaleas in bloom, Clam Beach and Little River State Beach.