Odd Wisconsin: The State’s 8 Wackiest Roadside Attractions

World’s Largest Fiberglass Fish, National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame Hayward

From off-the-wall festivals to outrageous legends, Wisconsin takes home top honors in the weirdness category. So when it comes to strange roadside attractions, it should surprise no one that the state boasts an impressive collection. Here’s your guide to seven of Wisconsin’s quirkiest roadside attractions:

  1. Sputnik Crash Site
    Manitowoc, Wis.
Sputnik Crash Site

Due to a rocket malfunction, Sputnik IV drifted in space for years before falling out of its orbit in 1962. Most of the spacecraft disintegrated before reaching the earth, except this 20-pound chunk of Sputnik, which landed in downtown Manitowoc.

The Rahr-West Art Museum in Manitowoc is full of interesting artifacts, but only one arrived to the museum by crashing down from the sky. The Soviet Union launched Sputnik IV on May 14, 1960. Due to a rocket malfunction, it drifted in space for years before falling out of its orbit on September 6, 1962. Nearly all of the spacecraft disintegrated before reaching the earth, but one 20-pound chunk of Sputnik made a permanent dent in downtown Manitowoc. The city of Manitowoc has honored the fallen piece of Sputnik since 2008 with its annual Sputnikfest.

  1. Chatty Belle, The Talking Cow
    Neillsville, Wis.
Chatty Belle, The Talking Cow

Chatty Belle stands tall at 16 feet and measures 20 feet long, which makes her seven times larger than your typical Holstein.

Chatty Belle, the world’s largest talking cow, was Wisconsin’s contribution to the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. Today, she resides happily in Neillsville. According to worldslargestthings.com, Belle recites the following greeting to her many visitors: “Hi, so nice to see you. My name is Chatty Belle and beside me is my son, Bullet. Bullet doesn’t talk yet but he’s learning. What’s your name? Well, nice to meet you. Did you know I’m the world’s largest talking cow? I’m 16 feet high at the shoulders and 20 feet long, seven times as large as the average Holstein.” Unfortunately, Bullet no longer stands next to her, but Belle certainly is keeping in touch with modern times: She recently joined Facebook and Twitter.

  1. World’s Largest Penny
    Woodruff, Wis.
World's Largest Penny

The world’s largest penny is 15 feet high and weighs more than 17,000 pounds.

This unusual monument was created in honor of Dr. Kate Pelham who in the early 1900s was a family doctor  to residents in an area of approximately 300 square miles in northern Wisconsin. In 1953, Dr. Pelham began fundraising for a hospital in her small hometown of Woodruff, and a local high school class made it their mission to “save their pennies” and donate $10,000 to the future hospital. The class raised $17,000 and national attention, which led to Dr. Pelham appearing on the popular 1950s television show This is Your Life. The hospital opened shortly after and the giant penny statue was unveiled in 1954.

  1. World’s Heaviest Ball of Twine
    Lake Nebagamon, Wis.
World’s Heaviest Ball of Twine

James Frank Kotera began building the world’s heaviest ball of twine in 1979. (Photo by David Kravetz.)

James Frank Kotera (who goes by JFK) began building the world’s heaviest ball of twine in 1979. He continues to work on making the ball larger but estimates that it currently weighs more than 20,000 lbs. During the summer months, JFK regularly greets visitors who come to take pictures of the wonder, as he’s often outdoors working on growing this gigantic twine ball.

  1. FAST: Fiberglass Statue Mold Yard
    Sparta, Wis.
FAST: Fiberglass Statue Mold Yard

Many of FAST’s abandoned products can be found in the “graveyard” located next to their workshop, which visitors can stroll through at anytime. (Photo by Jen Lukehart.)

Fiberglass Animals Shapes and Trademarks (FAST), located in Sparta, Wis., makes thousands of signs and other products every year. Waterslides that look like open-mouthed frogs? They make ‘em. Giant fiberglass Musky (see #7)? They make those, too! A ton of their old and abandoned products can be found in the “graveyard” located next to their workshop, which visitors can stroll through at anytime. This is likely the only place in the world where you can see giant fiberglass mold signs from the last 20 years.

  1. The Rock in the House
    Fountain City, Wis.
The Rock in the House

The Rock in the House is open to the public from April through October.

On April 24, 1995, a 55-ton boulder rolled down a hill and crashed into the home of Dwight and Maxine Anderson. (How’s that for a bad day?!) A few weeks later, a man named Jon Burt bought the house and turned it into a unique roadside attraction. With just a $2 honor system cost, the former Anderson residence is available for visitors to see 24/7 from April to October.

  1. World’s Largest Fiberglass Fish, National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame
    Hayward, Wis.
World’s Largest Fiberglass Fish, National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame Hayward

The World’s Largest Fiberglass Fish, National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward, Wis.

The largest object in the small town of Hayward draws 100,000 visitors each year. The National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame is inside the world’s largest fiberglass fish, which is, more specifically, our state fish: the Muskellunge (or “Musky” for short). Visitors enter the museum through a door in the Musky’s tail and explore the collections inside the four-story fish. At the height of the museum’s stairs, visitors can enjoy the breathtaking views from the observation deck inside the fish’s mouth.

  1. Fred Smith’s Wisconsin Concrete Park
    Phillips, Wis.

Concrete Park

Price County native Fred Smith began creating the Wisconsin Concrete Park back in 1968. Something of a Renaissance Man (i.e. lumberjack, tavern owner, farmer and dance hall musician), Smith constructed more than 230 figures depicting his vision of local and international culture. To this day, his work is highly regarded as one of most extraordinary displays of folk art. Smith’s more recognized statues include Ben Hur, the Lincolns, Sacajawea and Paul Bunyan.

 

Which weird roadside attraction is your favorite? Comment below!

63 replies
    • Nancy Foelske
      Nancy Foelske says:

      Very interesting ,shows great imagination. …also,ANOTHER I think it’s called Grandview down by Monroe orr Mineral PT.

      Reply
    • Nancy Foelske
      Nancy Foelske says:

      There is one outside of Sheboygan the Tellin statues…historic site thought to be superior in artistic quality

      Reply
  1. Debbie
    Debbie says:

    My fav is the penny. I was born in that hospital. Read the book Angel On Snowshoes for a story about Dr Kate.

    Reply
  2. Jim Spice
    Jim Spice says:

    Was getting more and more worried that you would not include Fred Smith’s Concrete Park, but was relieved at 9. The Milwaukee area “Witch’s House” might have been included, but perhaps may be covered in the future in it’s new location.

    Reply
  3. Tina
    Tina says:

    They have a Holstein but forgot the Guernsey in Manitowoc located on 10th Street in front of Cedar Crest ice cream.

    Reply
    • Ashlee
      Ashlee says:

      Agreed! The “Jurustic Park” is really neat to see, and free to enter! You can even buy them, and his wife has a little hobbit looking work shop she creates beautiful jewelry and other items she sells. You can ask anyone in Marshfield, WI for the location.

      Reply
  4. Gary
    Gary says:

    Natural rock formation (not man made) along WI. ST. HWY 58 near Ithaca/Lloyd WI. Not sure it is still standing. My parents always passed it on our travel from IL. to visit relatives in Cazenovia/Valton WI.

    Reply
  5. Jason V
    Jason V says:

    You didn’t list “the Trollway” in Mt. Horab!! -Way cooler than twine or the rock in the house… 😉

    Reply
    • Rachel
      Rachel says:

      Do you know where approximately this toilet is? We’ll likely be driving through next week, and that sounds like a great photo op 🙂

      Reply
  6. Jean Montgomery
    Jean Montgomery says:

    What about the sculptures of Dinosaurs and a UFO on Wisconsin Highway 11 west of Hazel Green, Wisconsin?

    Reply
  7. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    I think that The House on the Rock is one of the oddest places I have ever been to in my life. It is just amazing.

    Reply
  8. kim
    kim says:

    there is the car on top of the silo heading north somewhere between madison and wausau…ive past it a million times, but cant remember the location…but i bet someone else from up there does 😉

    Reply
  9. LORI DUCHROW
    LORI DUCHROW says:

    Little Bohemia in Manitowish Waters, right on hwy 51. location of the Dillinger gang shoot out (and filming of the movie with Johnny Depp) They have a museum.

    Reply
  10. Sheila Fish
    Sheila Fish says:

    Igor the giant mouse statue in front of Fennimore cheese store. It is the first sight that makes me know I’ve almost made it home.

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Embark on a road-trip and discover Wisconsin’s strangest roadside attractions […]

  2. […] you seen this list from The Bobber, part of Discover Wisconsin? Check it out… and here are the roads that take you to – or […]

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply