Pratt's Big John suffers an injury

Matthew Lane • Apr 12, 2018 at 7:00 PM

KINGSPORT — Pratt’s Big John is not feeling well these days.

If you’ve driven by the Stone Drive restaurant in the last 24 hours, then you’ve probably noticed something wrong with the enormous Indian. According to general manager April Conley, the iconic statue has a broken neck.

“We got a call Wednesday night about the head. Someone drove by and saw it. We’ve been getting calls all day about it.”

Big John is more than 50 years old, stands 32 feet tall and weighs about 10,000 pounds, Conley said. Though Big John has been repainted and resealed over the years, this is the first time the statue has cracked in this way, Conley said.

“It could be the fiberglass was weak and it broke. It could be the wooden joints that run from his shoulder have dry-rotted maybe,” Conley said. “We’re going to do all we can to repair it.”

To figure out the best way to repair the Indian, Conley said Tom Pratt — the owner of the restaurant — has reached out to Pal’s Sudden Service owner Pal Barger, to see who the company has used in the past to inspect its Big Man statue at the fast-food chain’s Lynn Garden Drive location.

Conley said she hopes to have a plan ready by the end of the week. Until then, a catering truck has been parked in front of Big John as a safety precaution.

Big John was built in 1954 by John Barker and stood in front of Barker’s Honest John’s gift shop, restaurant and gas station located on what is now Memorial Boulevard. When the state widened that road in 1959, Barker moved his business to Stone Drive.

In 1970, Barker decided to retire and sold the property and Big John to Pratt in 1971, where the statue has stood prominently ever since.

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