Christ of the Ozarks

Christ of the Ozarks statue is a monumental sculpture of Jesus located near Eureka SpringsArkansas, atop Magnetic Mountain at 1,500 feet in elevation. Erected in 1966, the statue stands 65 feet, and five inches tall. Photo by John Clise

By John Clise

At nearly 66 feet tall, the Christ of the Ozarks statue near Eureka Springs, Arkansas, is visible for several miles before visitors reach the site. The seven story tall crisp white figure of Christ cuts a dramatic presence against the pristine blue northern Arkansas sky.

For me, the statue is inspirational, thought provoking, sometimes overwhelming, and joyous. I’m certain that it effects everyone who visits differently.

The arms spread from fingertip to fingertip is 65 feet welcoming the more than 500,000 visitors to the grounds each year.

The well-groomed grounds around the Christ statue make seeing all its different views quite easy. The grounds are easily navigated, and handicapped accessible. It is open to the public without charge.  Free parking is located nearby.

Christ of the Ozarks sits on the grounds of The Great Passion Play, which has been performed there since 1968. The Great Passion Play in Eureka Springs, Arkansas is “America’s #1 Attended Outdoor Drama” according to the Institute of Outdoor Theatre and Drama of East Carolina University at Greenville. 

According to the play’s website, the event is staged in an outdoor amphitheater, the multi-level set, special lighting and sound effects, live animals, and a cast of over 100 Biblically costumed actors come together to create the thrilling epic drama of Jesus Christ’s last days on earth. This Christian attraction has been performed since 1968 in the beautiful Ozark Mountains in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.  There are many places to stay in Eureka Springs and fun things to do! See the Easter story come to life from Easter weekend and the first weekend in May through the last weekend in October. 

The statue was primarily the work of Emmet Sullivan, who also worked on nearby Dinosaur World. He had assisted in the work at Mount Rushmore. The statue is modernistic and minimalistic; there is little facial detail or expression, and the lines and forms are generally simplified. The arms are outstretched straight, suggesting the Crucifixion; however the cross is not depicted.

In popular culture, the Christ of the Ozarks statue is featured briefly in the 2005 movie Elizabethtown and in the 1988 movie Pass the Ammo. It is also featured during the intro theme to True DetectiveSeason 3, which was filmed in the Ozarks region of Arkansas. It features in a 2018 documentary The Gospel of Eureka.

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