Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Some enchanted achievement: Gary Greff's Enchanted Highway of Regent, North Dakota

 So you're driving along a quiet North Dakota road...

 ...when some of the world's coolest, and biggest, outdoor sculptures pop up!











That's us sitting on this big guy's shoes, for scale.

There are eccentric roadside attractions and then there are the standards by which all others are measured. Western North Dakota's Enchanted Highway belongs in that pantheon. It's a road off Interstate 94 (Exit 72) approximately 20 miles east of Dickinson. It extends for 32 miles south to the town of Regent. Artist Gary Greff has created what's billed as the world's largest metal sculptures along the highway, depicting 50-foot native geese, grasshoppers, deer, prairie birds and fish. He also erected a 51-foot tribute to President Teddy Roosevelt and a whimsical Tin Family made from used farm equipment. We were lucky enough to visit back in 2006 and I can't say enough about how wonderful this place is. Every few miles, the flat, quiet, "middle of nowhere" landscape is interrupted with an awesome display of whimsy, beautifully executed. The scale of these metal sculptures bowls you over and the craftsmanship is remarkable, too. Greff's intention is admirable as well. Worried his hometown might die soon if it relied solely on farming, he began dreaming of ways to bring people and businesses to the small community. He was a teacher and a school principal who had never done any artwork or welding prior to 1989, but he came up with a magical folk art mystery tour of enormous proportions, leading admirers and curiosity seekers to Regent.

And it is with extreme delight that we learned that in the last year Greff has bought the town's high school, of which he graduated in 1967, and has remodeled it into a castle-themed motel, complete with drawbridge. Seems like a natural, since lots of people drive to Regent to see the Enchanted Highway and motels in these parts are scarce. Greff plans to use profits from the Enchanted Castle Hotel to fund future sculptures along the highway. Rooms come with and without hot tubs, and if you feel like shooting a few hoops, the former high school's gym is available. Here's what the Bismarck Tribune has to say about it. Greff also has plans to erect the world's largest motorcycle at 102 feet long and 42 feet high in downtown Regent, to attract the Sturgis crowd as well as fun-loving kooks like us.

God bless guys like Gary Greff, who use their eccentricity to make the world a truly better place. We're enchanted.

7 comments:

Rick Kilby said...

Love this and will post on the SCA's facebook page....

elf said...

This is so on my bucket list of roadside attractions. Totally awesome.

Mod Betty / RetroRoadmap.com said...

Wow, that's not only awesome looking, but inspiring as well - thanks for sharing, Gunnar!

Tyler Thursby said...

Looks like there's probably some room on my own bucket list for this one too. Love it.

Check out my awesome travel blog :)

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Sumoflam said...

I was happy to come across your site this evening. Like yourselves, I have traveled across the country and write my own blog about the trips at http://lessbeatenpaths.com

About three weeks ago I drove back to Kentucky from Idaho and we took the Enchanted Highway as part of it as well. I am currently documenting it in detail.

You may also be interested in knowing that I am an avid supporter and submitter to Roadside America.

Gunnar and Sherry said...

Thanks for stopping by, Sumoflam. We are indeed kindred spirits! I like your site, too, and it appears we've been to lots of the same places. Interesting to see the makeover they give to Martha the Uniroyal gal in Blackfoot, Idaho. Personally, I prefer her as a blond, though!