The Paris Texas Eiffel Tower
Immediately recognized as something distinctly Parisian (in the Texas sense, of course), our 65-foot Eiffel Tower graces the South lawn of the Love Civic Center at the corner of Jefferson Road and Collegiate Avenue. The Tower began its life as a symbol adopted by local radio station KPLT. Shortly after groundbreaking of the Love Civic Center in early 1993, the dream of the Tower began to materialize. Chamber manager Gary Vest approached the local welder’s union, Boilermakers Local #902 about the possibility of turning the symbol into a physical structure. Vest’s challenge was accepted, and a local plant, Babcock and Wilcox Co, furnished materials, plant space, and employee time for the project.
Soon after, Paris had an Eiffel Tower of its own. However, the original symbol adopted by KPLT sported a red cowboy hat, and that was the obvious next and final step for the project and fully realizing the dream. Vest approached Doan Wall, who would wait until after his retirement to begin the project. The hat itself was modeled after a straw Stetson owned by Don Riddle, DVM, and with that start, the entire project was accomplished solely with the aid of the community, local businesses in particular. Donald Blackburn of Paris Iron and Metal supplied the steel; Ronnie Bolton of Lone Star Collision Center participated by supplying paint. George Gaharan of Shurtleff-Garahan and John Myers of CSR/Wall rolled the steel of the crown and brim of the replica Stetson, respectively, and Don Riddle and Anna Martin (of Village Jewelers) tooled an 18-inch brass feather and nameplate for the hat. Installation was accomplished with the help of Todd Stephens of Stephens Concrete and Lamar Electric Co-Operative manager Don McCaskill for crane and bucket truck usage. Finally, on Monday morning, October 19, 1998, the Texas sized hat, sporting a 10-foot brim and 4.5-foot crown, was mounted atop the replica Eiffel Tower. Doan Wall had said, “This hat will give us distinction. We won’t just have a little Eiffel Tower, we’ll have one with a hat on it.”
Paris, Texas does indeed have its distinction, as the structure is recognized and visited by numerous people every year, as well as standing as a symbol of the coming together of community around a common project. It is the third largest Eiffel Tower in the world, behind the original in Paris, France and a replica in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Tower also has the distinction of being named the 1995 Best Pit Stop by the Great North American Race. But, as a local effort and symbol of community pride, it stands head, hat, and shoulders above the rest as something particularly “Paris, Texas.”