West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center and Sleepy John Estes Home in Brownsville, Tennessee

Meet “The Element Man” at the West Tennessee Music Museum

Want something fun to do? Visit the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center in Brownsville, Tenn. Three museums wait to entertain and educate including the West Tennessee Music Museum

The music museum features exhibits of West Tennessee legends like bluesman Sleepy John Estes, rock star Tina Turner, Rockabilly Carl Perkins and many others. The museum also features an Elvis exhibit and “The Element Man.”

Visitors to the museum are greeted by the life-size sculpture constructed mainly of tubular heating elements. Built by employees of Haywood Element, Brownsville division of Glenn Electric Heater Corp. based in Erie, Pennsylvania, the Element Man was originally constructed for an entry in the 1997 Scarecrow Contest, held annually in Brownsville.

“We received second place,” says John Finn, Haywood Element’s Chief Operating Officer. “A few of the judges thought he was too unconventional.”

The Element Man is made from heating elements manufactured at the Brownsville plant. The legs are flanged immersion heaters and the upper body is made mostly of oven elements. The waist and hips are hot tub heaters.

The sculpture includes a banjo that is made from refractory disk and strip heaters. These elements also make up the sculpture’s eyes. According to Finn, these heaters are used in different appliances from floor heaters to vacuum chambers like the ones on the space shuttle. Locally, the same types of heaters are used by Tripp Country Ham to slow-cure their hams.

The sculpture has also spent time at Haywood Elementary School. The crayon nameplate displayed at the Element Man’s base was made by students at the Brownsville school.

Haywood Element employees Vance Holmes, Wayne Harper and Jerry Borders did the brazing and welding of the sculpture. Peggy Taylor and Lou Ella Wilson assembled the project.

“The concept,” according to Finn, “was a little bit of all of us.”

Haywood Element employees are happy to share their unique creation with museum visitors. “We are glad so many are enjoying our mascot,” adds Finn, “and glad for it to be a part of the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center’s music exhibit.”

The West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center is located at 121 Sunny Hill Cove, just off I-40 at Exit 56, behind McDonalds, in Brownsville, Tenn. The center features the music museum, a cotton museum, the Hatchie River museum, rotating exhibits and information boards highlighting counties throughout West Tennessee. Museum hours are 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday and Sunday 1-5 p.m. For more information, call the center at 731-779-9000. Group tours are welcome.

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© 2010-2011 West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center
Interstate 40 at Exit 56 (behind McDonald's) • 121 Sunny Hill Cove • Brownsville, Tennessee 38012 • 731-779-9000