Odd Wisconsin: The State’s 8 Wackiest Roadside Attractions

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!

62 Responses to “Odd Wisconsin: The State’s 8 Wackiest Roadside Attractions”

  1. Opal

    Prairie Moon Sculpture Garden in Cochrane

    Reply
    • Nancy Foelske

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

      Reply
  2. Jody Smith

    My favorite is the Concrete Park. A definite “must see”!
    Best on a rainy day.

    Reply
    • Nancy Foelske

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

      Reply
  3. Angel

    You forgot the one down in Buffalo City. All sorts of fun statues and sculptures!

    Reply
  4. Shawn Ramsey

    How did Dr. Evermore’s Forevertron not make this list?

    Reply
  5. Debbie

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

    Reply
  6. Amy Dillon

    I want to visit 5 & 6!

    Reply
  7. Reem

    Dr. Evermore’s Forevertron in North Freedom!

    Reply
  8. Jim Spice

    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
  9. Anita

    What about the Grotto at Dickyville?

    Reply
  10. Tina

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

    Reply
    • Nancy Foelske

      Difference she doesn’t “chat” with you like this one does great icecream store tho!

      Reply
  11. J E Reilly

    And the Dickeyville Grotto?

    Reply
  12. Julie

    Check out JuRustic Park in Marshfield!!

    Reply
    • Patty

      That is what I was expecting to see.

      Reply
    • Ashlee

      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
  13. Sarah

    The Pink Elephant in DeForest!

    Reply
  14. Lee

    Where is the Plastic Loon in Mercer, Wi??

    Reply
  15. Gary

    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
  16. Derek

    If you folks know of any other odd locations around Wisconsin that aren’t on http://www.wisconsinosity.com, please let me know! I would love new submissions!

    Reply
    • Ashlee

      I would definitely add Jurustic Park in Marshfield, WI and there is a large tree with lots of chain saws stuck in it somewhere in Medford, WI. I believe its north of Medford. There are also many different colored cow statues in Thorp, WI. There is a site, i believe its http://www.roadtrippers.com, that you can pull up these and more.

      Reply
  17. Sally

    The cows in Thorp Wi

    Reply
  18. Steve Carns

    How about the M near Platteville.

    Reply
  19. Jackie Wendt

    mine is the house on the rock

    Reply
  20. Jason V

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

    Reply
  21. Leng

    The random toilet sitting out on a field on I-94. I see it everytime I drive up to Minnesota. Lol

    Reply
    • Rachel

      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
  22. LY

    The concrete park was started sometime in the 40’s, not 1968 like it says here.

    Reply
  23. Jean Montgomery

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

    Reply
  24. Lauren

    The Hodag in Rhinelander!

    Reply
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  26. Sarah

    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
  27. Debbie

    Indian and muskie in St. Germaine

    Reply
  28. Betty Farmer

    Wild Rose, Wisconsin, Transformer!

    Reply
  29. Holly

    Everything out in front of M Schettl Sales in Oshkosh

    http://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/1812

    Reply
  30. kim

    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
    • Peggy Gullickson

      The silo with the car on top is on Hwy 13 south between Marshfield and Pittsville

      Reply
  31. LORI DUCHROW

    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
  32. Suz

    Dickeyville Grotto

    Reply
  33. Cindy

    The giant loon in Mercer, WI

    Reply
  34. Sheila Fish

    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
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