Giant Crosses

South of Knoxville, TN

If you’ve never seen a giant cross before, know that you can find many throughout the United States landscape.  The photograph above was sent to me by Libba Roberts, a new friend who has already learned of my odd roadside obsessions.  Its location is just south of Knoxville, TN in Royal Blue, TN. Thanks, Libba!  On my travels, I have also seen a giant cross in Effingham, IL and Edmond, OK.  There is also one in Groom, TX and Huntsville, AL. 
The cross in Effingham, IL is the largest in the western hemisphere.  According to the Cross Foundation website: The Cross Foundation has completed a 198 foot Cross at the intersection of Interstates 57 & 70 in Effingham, Illinois. This site is intended to serve as a beacon of hope to the 50,000 travelers estimated to pass the site each day.  See this link for photographs of the cross.  (They are copyrighted.)
The reason for the cross in Groom, TX has more of a forceful statement. From the Road Wanderer website. 
The Groom Cross is located between Interstate 40 and old Route 66 going west out of Groom, Texas. It was built by Steve Thomas of Pampa, Texas in 1995. Mr. Thomas, disgusted with the huge billboards advertising XXX pornography locations along I-40 wanted to make a public profession of faith along the Interstate. Originally he wanted to put up his own billboard with Bible verses but could never find the appropriate verse. Instead, inspired by a cross built by a rancher in Ballinger, Texas, Mr. Thomas knew that he would build a cross. Built on private property donated by Chris Britten to avoid legal issues with the ACLU at a height of 190 feet, the Groom Cross is reported as being the biggest cross in the northern hemisphere. Recent additions to the area around the Groom Cross include a memorial in memory of the victims of abortion and a replica of Calvary, with steps leading to the crosses, and a replica of Christ’s tomb. The Stations of the Cross were just completed and feature life-sized sculptures of the events leading to Christ’s crucifixion. The Groom Cross is fast becoming a roadside pilgrimage site with the number of travelers visiting the site increasing exponentially.


Groom, TX photograph from Wikipedia Commons.

So, if you happen to pass a giant cross on your roadside adventures, know that it’s not really uncommon.  It’s not historic, but it’s definitely Roadside America.  Generally, no matter how strange something appears from your windshield, there is a reason that it exists.  Half the fun is finding out why and the other half is just taking a photograph to share the wacky site!