My blogging friend Frank Jump's outstanding Fading Ad Blog was very inspirational to me when I first started Eccentric Roadside and it continues to delight and intrigue. I used to not notice these old brickface ghosts of a bygone advertising era but now I really appreciate the melancholy and mysterious buzz they give off. And if Neil Young will forgive me, it's better to fade away than burn out.
My blogger pal Wendyvee had a post recently about some really big roadside corkscrews that jogged my memory about a similar delight we encountered on our way home from a trip we took to Montana a few years ago. Hurley, Wisconsin is on the Montreal River, just over the state line from Michigan's Upper Peninsula. They bill themselves as "where 51 ends and the fun begins," meaning Highway 51, and they're known for mining, their Little Finland area, and for being a hangout of Al Capone, John Dillinger, and Baby Face Nelson in the 1920s.
As you may have gleaned, The Corkscrew is a liquor store on Hurley's Route 2 with a really big corkscrew for a sign. Fifteen feet tall, to be precise (thank you, Debra Jane Seltzer). According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, owner Robert Vittone welded it himself out of stainless steel tubing. "When I built it, I didn't really pursue it as being the world's largest. A guy thought I should get in this book that has the world's largest and biggest," said Vittone, who seems blase about the whole world's biggest thing.
Signs like these make driving fun. This place would be especially appropriate if traffic ever backs up on the highway out front...you know, like a...bottleneck?
You bet it is! The Camellia Garden Club and The Guinness Book say so.
Dothan is also the Peanut Capital of the World, or so they say, and they want you to know it with these whimsical characters...
They've also got some awesome murals.
Sometimes less is more when it comes to eccentric roadside attractions. Such is the case with the southeastern Alabama town of Dothan, home of a small, nondescript triangular patch of land at the intersection of North Appletree, Museum and Troy Streets that has been feted by the Guinness Book of World Records as the World's Smallest City Block. There's a yield sign, a stop sign, a street sign and a stone marker declaring its awesomeness, and that's, well, it. That was certainly good enough to get me to detour way out of my way on a 100-degree day last September. But wait, there's more! In addition to some really terrific murals all around town, another quirky attraction looms: whimsically decorated 4-foot tall peanut characters, in honor of Dothan's self-proclaimed title of "Peanut Capital of the World" greet you from different town vantage points. Apparently in this town, eccentric roadside attractions are a dime a Dothan.
The food doesn't make these patrons have blurry faces...I did that in Photoshop.
My omelet was so good...
...that I cleaned my plate...
...and didn't have room for these yummy desserts.
You might see a chicken or two in the parking lot (Rhode Island does have a chicken as its state bird, after all).
They took some pretty hilarious liberties photographically on the menu with those mountains...
Here's what the real middle of nowhere looks like heading to the north...
...and the south.
There's something admirable about the modesty of a place that declares it's in the middle of nowhere. Such is the case of the Middle of Nowhere Diner on Route 3 in Exeter, Rhode Island. Exeter, 21 miles southwest of Providence, is not exactly what you'd call cosmopolitan, and that's the way the Exeterians like it. And that includes us, as we've been Exeter residents since the early 90s. We finally made it to the M.O.N. diner just recently and were not disappointed by its friendly, small town atmosphere and good grub. You might even see a chicken or two walking around the parking lot, in keeping with Exeter's eccentric rural ambiance. So if Exeter is the middle of nowhere, and I live here, then I guess I must be a real Nowhere man, sitting in my Nowhere land, making all my Nowhere plans for nobody.
This blog is devoted to old fashioned American roadside attractions... the wonderfully big, bizarre, crazy, wacky, quirky, weird, funny, unique and mundane sites you see travelling cross-country by car in the USA, where getting there really is all the fun!