A little town in northeast Michigan is starting to get a reputation for its massive steel sculptures, including a bust of George Washington.
Some of the other sculptures celebrate northern Michigan's historic logging industry and a few are just whimsical.
In all, there are seven sculptures in-and-around Onaway. Many more are scattered in towns throughout the north.
Tom Moran built them all and he unveiled his latest work Monday at the Onaway Independence Day parade.
On a big, grassy hill near Onaway, sitting all by itself, is a massive steel bust of George Washington. It seems like it comes out of nowhere.
Jenn Fry says the area's kind of become known for this sculpture, and the others that dot the landscape here.
"Yeah they're everywhere now," she says. "And people come up, when they come to visit, and everyone stops by the George Washington and get their picture taken and all that stuff."
Her son Aiden is eight, so he doesn't remember a time when Washington wasn't on that hill. It was built in the late 1990s.
He adds to his mom's description: "They also have, like, Abraham Lincoln and, like, an army statue."
He's talking about the bust called, "Unknown Soldier." There's also a bust called "Miss Liberty," and "Log Mover," a tribute to early Onaway lumberjacks.
Since 1989, Tom Moran has been building these massive sculptures. Today they can be found in Rogers City, Cheboygan and as far west as Charlevoix. But they all start here, as floats in the annual Onaway Independence Day parade.
It took Tom Moran seven months to build his latest sculpture, which is kept secret but until parade day. Folks along the route start talking about it even before the parade begins. Some even take a sneak peak as the floats line up down the street.
This year Tom Moran unveiled a near life-size steel replica of The Lexington, the first Revolutionary War vessel to commandeer a British ship. The steel hull is made to look like a wooden ship, worn ragged by war.
For the parade, dressed in revolutionary garb, Tom Moran and a couple younger helpers launch t-shirts into the crowd from onboard cannons. He also asked a Great Lakes captain to join them onboard. They launch shirts that read: "I was bombed by the Lexington."
"It's the first time I've done anything nautical," says Tom Moran, who started building the floats, or steel sculptures, back in 1989. He wanted to revive the parade he had enjoyed so much here as a kid. It was dying out at the time.
He owns Moran Iron Works, and he knows steel.
"What I could do was not necessarily cardboard and crate paper. But I thought, you know, if I had something leftover, laying around I could build something. And then it'd be useable. It would last more than just the parade."
A Humble Joy
Tom Moran's company is the biggest employer around here. But he claims he's no businessman, just a welder with a high-school education. Likewise he says he's no artist, just a craftsman.
So how does he feel about the fact that he's shaping the landscape of his hometown?
"In one way, I'm embarrassed by them because after I get done with them I don't really like seeing them again because you know all the mistakes you make and what you could do better, so that's the first thing.
"But the second thing is, yeah - I feel some joy that other people appreciate them. But still, I wish I could do a lot better."
It's not clear yet where Tom Moran will find a permanent home for the 60-foot long replica of The Lexington. Perhaps somewhere near the water.
See pictures of all the sculptures and where to find them here.