Have you ever driven into a town and noted a bizarre sight such as Lucy the Elephant who welcomes visitors to Margate, New Jersey.
Lucy is made of wood covered with tin. The six-story, sixty-five-foot tall town greeter weighs ninety tons!
Or how about the Boll Weevil that graces the square in Enterprise, Alabama? Every October the town of Enterprise holds the Boll Weevil Fall Festival. This annual event highlights the history of downtown Enterprise. Great shopping, vendors, fun for the kids and live entertainment provide a family-friendly event for all ages to enjoy.
And then there’s the giant Wheel Turtle that resides in Dunseith, North Dakota. The massive turtle was erected in 1982 to provide notice of nearby Turtle Mountain State Park. The tortoise is eighteen feet tall and made of 2,000 old wheel rims.
Here are more wacky roadside attractions:
The Beer Can House
In 1968, retired Houston Texas upholsterer, John Milkovisch, began a home improvement project inlaying marbles, rocks and metal pieces to replace the grass in his yard. Next he added aluminum beer can siding to his house. Today, 50,000 beer cans gleam from his home on 222 Malone Street, Houston, Texas. Drive by any time!
Petrified Wood Park
Located in Lemmon, South Dakota, Petrified Wood Park was a depression work project of leader, Ole Quammen. The park takes up an entire city block on Main Street in downtown Lemmon.
This beautifully maintained park was recently renovated. It is one of the best American rock sculpture parks.
The project employed thirty to forty men for two years. Quammen, an amateur geologist, had the men scavenge rocks and fossils. They hauled these back to Lemmon where they built a castle, a wishing well, a waterfall, the Lemmon Pioneer Museum, and hundreds of pile sculptures of petrified wood.
The House of Mystery
Located in Gold Hill, Oregon the house was turned into a 1930’s tourist attraction. Interest in the off kilter structure was revived when it became the set for an X-Files episode in 1999. Paranormal has been blamed for its strange slant. Brooms stand on their own in this strange house too!
The scientific explanation? In the late 1800’s the Grey Eagle Mining Company built a gold assay office just up the hill from where the mine tailings were slowly shoving Sardine Creek westward. Twenty years later the building was abandoned.
Heavy rainfall caused a mud slide and the building was washed down the hill. It landed twisted and tilted against a large maple tree. The house of mystery is in surprisingly good shape despite a hundred years and countless visitors. The building is described as a “gravitational anomaly”.
The World’s Largest Hammock
This forty-two-foot-long structure is located just off North Carolina’s Route 158 at Point Harbor, North Carolina. The lounger took 10,000 feet of rope to build and can support 8,000 pounds. Kodak family photo op!
An example of installation art, this Amarillo, Texas sight features ten graffiti-covered cars. The vehicles look for the entire world as if they took a nosedive into the soil. Built in 1974, the tourist attraction is the brain child of millionaire Stanley Marsh III. It was constructed by a trio of architects. Visitors are encouraged to add their own graffiti. Be sure to pack a can or two of spray paint.
If you are into car roadside attractions don’t miss Carhenge.
This adaptation of England’s Stonehenge includes thirty-eight cars sprayed gray to resemble a modern-day Druid Stonehenge.
Built in 1987, Carhenge is located in Alliance, Nebraska. It was created by Jim Reiders who was fascinated by the original British structure. Carhenge raw material was cars rescued by Reiders” and his friends. It is a memorial to Reiders’ father on whose farm it stands.
Some of the cars are partially buried as deep as five feet. Over 80,000 tourists have visited this free site in the middle of a wheat field.
Artist Mark Cline created this exact replica of Stonehenge. It is built entirely of Styrofoam. The artist even placed the “stones” in their exact astronomical positions. Stop by Natural Bridge, Virginia to see this wonder.
Weeki Wachee Springs
In 1947, the first mermaid show was opened at Springhill, Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs. The eighteen-seat underwater theater was located six feet below the surface. Visitors can watch the underwater shows, which includes the history of WeekiWachee Springs.
Just when you think you’ve seen it all? Barney’s Toilet Seat Museum.
Located in San Antonio Texas Barney Smith’s museum is proof that anything can be an artist’s canvas. A retired plumber, hailed as “The King of the Thrones” Barney exercises his passion for painting by decorating toilet seats. His museum is also his Texas garage. Toilet seats are decorated to commemorate Super Bowl victories, one has license plates. Others depict his travels. Drop by Barney’s garage if you’re in the area.
If you are in Philadelphia another museum to see is the Mutter Museum.
The Mütter Museum was founded in 1858 for the purpose of educating doctors in anatomy and medical abnormalities. Thomas Dent Mütter, a surgeon, donated his personal collection of unique materials to the museum. There are now over 20,000 oddities. One of the most famous is a plaster cast of the torso of world-famous Siamese Twins. There is also a collection of 2,000 objects taken from people’s throats. The tallest skeleton on display in North America is part of the Mutter Museum collection.
The World’s Largest Ball of Stamps
Located in Boy’s Town, Nebraska the world’s largest ball of stamps is part of The Leon Myers Stamp Center. The ball is 600pounds, 32 inches in diameter and made up of approximately 4,655,000 stamps.
Not to be outdone in the ball business the world’s largest ball of twine constructed by one person is located in Darwin, Minnesota. The roadside attraction is the work of Francis Johnson who wrapped twine four hours a day for twenty-three weeks. By the end of the fourth month he needed a crane to move his project. By 1979, his ball weighed almost 9 tons and was 12 feet wide.
A quiet unassuming man, Johnson died of emphysema leaving behind thirty years of twine. The town of Darwin built a museum to honor his effort.
The World’s Smallest Church
We now go from largest to smallest. Located on a wooden dock in a pond in Oneida near Syracuse, New York, the world’s tiniest church was built in 1989. It is 3 feet by 6 feet and has two seats. In 1990 the church—which does not hold regular services—hosted a wedding. Guests sat in boats on the pond.
If you want to see a replica of Beijing’s Forbidden Gardens without having to leave USA…
You need only visit Katy, Texas. The attraction includes a 1:20 scale of the Forbidden City; a scale model of Suzhou (dubbed the Venice of China); and a 1:3-scale model of the tomb of Qin Shi Huangdi, complete with his terra-cotta army of 6,000.
Another built-to-scale tourist attraction is the leaning tower of Niles.
This smaller version of the Leaning Tower of Pisa was built in 1934 by Robert Ilg. His aim was to hide an unsightly Niles Illinois water tower. The tower is 94 feet compared to Pisa’s 177 feet tall. It is also half as leaning at 7.4 feet off vertical compared to the original tower’s 15-foot lean. The Leaning Tower of Niles was later donated to a local YMCA.
The Shoe Tree
This Middlegate, Nevada attraction is an example of playful interactive art. It is already covered in more shoes than you can count— footwear donations from tourists and locals.
No matter where you roam in USA, you are sure to find more roadside peculiarities. Some are natural wonders like the Maine Desert.
This 300-acre tract of land near Freeport is nestled between pines and babbling brooks. It’s a real desert with sand and temperatures hotterthan the surrounding area. Travelers to LL Bean often spend some time in the desert while they’re here.
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