Thursday - Sep 21, 2017

The Thirty-Foot-Long Hammer


The Thirty-Foot-Long Hammer

If you follow Highway 101 north from San Francisco through the picturesque California wine country and redwood forests, you will find that it eventually drifts back towards the Pacific coast on the shores of Humboldt Bay. Here the state’s longest highway becomes Broadway Street as it enters the city limits of Eureka, the Humboldt county seat and a town that is a state historic landmark.

On your right you will pass the Sunset Memorial Park Cemetery, and then you need to keep checking the left side of the road for a jaw-dropping sight that is listed as one of the Eureka Roadside Attractions by no less an authority than USA Today.

Hitting the Nail on the Head on Highway 101

Standing proudly outside Pierson’s Building Centre, a locally owned and operated DIY and home improvement store, you’ll see what is generally regarded as the world’s largest hammer. Standing thirty feet tall if you include the concrete base that is a vital necessity if it is not to topple over and flatten any passing vehicles, it towers above the parking lot. At first you won’t believe what you’re seeing. You’ll think it’s made of plastic, especially as the handle passes right through the 12 foot by 7 foot backlit Pierson’s sign, where special deals are advertised. But it’s actually the real deal – a thirty-foot claw hammer that a giant could pick up and use.

The World’s Biggest Hammer

Pierson’s hammer has a handle that is made of actual solid wood, reinforced with a steel beam for additional strength. The hammer’s head measures ten foot, three inches from the striking head to the tips of the claw and is made from 18-gauge brushed stainless steel. Erected on November 12th, 1991, this whopping tool has served faithfully as the symbol of Pierson’s for nearly a quarter of a century, and it still looks as good as the day it was set in place. Hammers are generally used and abused and come in for a good deal of wear. Some can handle it, such as the Indestructible Handle Copper Head Sledge available from  Redashe ltd, and so can the Pierson hammer by the look of it. Both have an incredibly tough handle that can deal with overstriking. Of course, hopefully we’ll never have to find out in the case of the Pierson hammer!

An Exact Replica of a Real Hammer

The Pierson hammer is not just a random hammer, either; it’s an in-scale replica of a number D020 20 oz Full Octagon Nail Hammer as manufactured by the Vaughan company, a well-respected tool manufacturer since 1869. It’s all there writ large: the polished striking head, sides and claw, the triple wedge, the octagonal neck, face and handle, with all recreated in perfect proportion. Small wonder, then, that it’s a well-loved local landmark. However, it’s also a pop culture icon, having appeared in a satirical role doing what hammers do in Bill Griffiths’ Zippy the Pinhead newspaper comic strip during the Bush administration years.

It’s a local tradition that you can touch the thirty-foot hammer for luck. So when you’re driving on the Pacific Coast Highway 101, why not stop off to boost your fortunes?