June 23, 2017 Slideshows » Arts

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20 Strange Roadside Attractions Every Texan Needs to Visit 

Texas is full of roadside oddities, weird historical monuments, natural wonders and unique art. Here are 20 strange attractions to go see in Texas this summer.
Texas Eiffel Tower, complete with cowboy hat
In order to outdo Tennessee (ceremonially, of course, since Texas is intrinsically superior in every way), who built an Eiffel Tower replica of their own in the same year, the local welders’ union who built this tower added a giant Stetson like a cherry on top to tip the scales, pushing the height to 65 feet.
2025 S. Collegiate Dr, Paris, TX 75460 Photo via thatmattclement
Cockroach hall of fame and museum
Perhaps as atonement for a lifetime of killing them, career pest control specialist Michael Bohdan dresses up dead roaches as famous celebrities and historical characters (e.g. “Liberoachi”) that visitors can view for free. Visitors can also handle live Madagascar hissing cockroaches.
2231-B West 15th Street, Plano, TX 75075, (972) 519-0355
Photo via RVasquez
The Texas Woofus
The Woofus is a Frankensteinian hodgepodge of Texas livestock: the longhorn, the sheep, the horse, the hog, the duck and the turkey. Assuming Woofus #1 (or, as I like to call it, the Uberwoofus) is still intact somewhere, the Woofus proudly perching on display at Fair Park, Dallas is the second of its kind--the 1936 original, sculpted the same year as the original Salt Palace for the Texas Centennial, has been inexplicably missing since 1941.
Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Fair Park, Dallas, TX
Tomasland
Stonehenge II and Easter Island heads
Not to be confused with the Stonehenge replica in Odessa (also worth a visit--don’t ask me why there are multiple Stonehenges in Texas), Stonehenge II began as an unused chunk of patio slab that the late Al Sheppard erected in 1989 for reasons yet unknown to man. He then got the bright idea to build a replica of the British Stonehenge original as accurately as possible, and added a bonus package of mo’ai a year later.
120 Point Theatre Rd S, Ingram, TX, (830) 367-5120
Photo via Rhubarble
World’s largest squirrel statue
On the list of Texas-est Things to Do, buying a pecan pie from a vending machine is just below hunting whitetail with a LaRue on the back of a longhorn. Next to the family-owned Berdoll Pecan Candy & Gift Company and their famous pecan pie vending machine is the world’s largest statue of a squirrel, standing friendly-eyed and proud at 14 feet.
2626 Highway 71 West, Cedar Creek, TX 78612, (512) 321-6157
Photo via efransen
berdollsquirrel.com
Devil’s Sinkhole
The Devil’s Sinkhole lurks on 1,860 acres of wild and mainly undeveloped land. Some evidence suggests that prehistoric campsites existed around this roughly 400-foot gaping hole in the ground, and it may have even been a venerated site among native tribes in the area. Although Dante-style katabases into the sinkhole are not permitted, visitors can stand over the chasm on a viewing platform, and the park offers evening tours to watch the nightly spectacle of bats flying out of the sinkhole like, well, bats out of hell.
101 N. Sweeten St, Rocksprings, TX 78880, (830) 563-2287 (address and phone number of Rocksprings Visitor’s Center)
tpwd.texas.gov
Photo via Steven Johnson
Prada Marfa
Patrolled by ominous black vultures, this modern art project created in 2005 by Berlin-based artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset is jarringly located by a railroad track stretching into the Chihuahuan desert. This sore thumb of a building was originally intended to decay over time to make a statement on consumerism, but vandals and graffitists have attempted to accelerate the process: spray-paint tags, tattoo parlor stickers and mysterious poetry carpet every available surface around the store. Such artificial interference is scrubbed away by artist and Valentine local Boyd Elder, whose painted animal skulls became famous as the centerpieces of cover art for the band The Eagles. Make sure to bring a padlock to hang on the fence behind the store--it’s become something of a tradition.
1.4 miles northwest of Valentine, TX on Highway 90, 79854
Photo via dustinzoey
Bed & breakfast made of papercrete
In Marathon, Texas at the gateway to Big Bend National Park sits a lush and comfortable ecological project: a bed and breakfast called Eve’s Garden made entirely of papercrete, intended to “provide a comfortable bed and breakfast environment and a conversational forum to address issues regarding the ecology we live in.”
200 NW 3rd St, Marathon TX, 79842, (432) 386-4165
evesgarden.org
Photo via evesgardenbnb
Mysterious Red Button
In a small alcove on a brick wall in Houston is a red button that, when pushed, causes the bayou below the street to roil and bubble like some kind of swampy Charybdis. Artist Dean Ruck created this intentionally ephemeral piece of functional art in 1998 “after reviewing the Buffalo Bayou Master Plan's call for increasing aeration in the waterway.” Anyone walking by can push the button, releasing a burst of oxygen into the bayou to keep it from becoming stagnant and smelly.
510 Preston St, Houston, TX 77002
Photo via houstontx.gov
Last remaining boundary marker of the Republic of Texas
It just makes sense that the only international border within the U.S. is in Texas. One lone (star) antique granite trunk is left at the Texas/Louisiana border, formerly the international boundary between the U.S.A. and the Republic of Texas. This particular border stone, dating to 1840 (six years before annexation into the U.S.), is near Deadwood, TX, about 15 miles from Carthage.
Follow FM 31 about 10 miles southeast from Deadwood, TX
Photo, courtesy Gerald Massey, via texasescapes.com
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The Cave Without A Name
The Cave Without a Name is a National Natural Landmark home to beautiful rock formations that many describe as fluid or living. In addition to quiet tours to observe and appreciate the results of millions of years of slow geological processes, The Cave Without A Name also takes advantage of natural cathedral-like dome acoustics and its cool year-round 66 degree temperature to host live performance events. 325 Kreutzberg Rd, Boerne, TX 78006, (830) 537-4212 cavewithoutaname.com
Photo via rusellesprout
Dinosaur Valley State Park
Beneath the waters of the Paluxy river lie the footprints of actual dinosaurs (sauropods, to be precise, apparently). Campers can tread where giants trod in the cool water, surrounded by thick forest veined with miles of hiking trails.
1629 Park Rd 59, Glen Rose, TX 76043, (254) 897-4588
Official website
Photo via mitchellrmartin
A grave full of civil rights history in the middle of the road
The land surrounding this unusual monument was once home to an entire segregated cemetery, but now only this stubborn tombstone remains, a grotesque foreshadowing of Rosa Parks. In 1911, a year before the graveyard fell out of use, former slave Hollie Tatnell was buried; when developers bought the land in 1947 and edged out families of color along with their buried relatives, Tatnell’s descendants refused to move the body, and here it has remained in the middle of the road.
529 Wheelock St, Hearne, TX 77859
Photo via Google Earth
David Koresh’s swimming pool
After the infamous Waco standoff between the Branch Davidian cult and amassed military and law enforcement organizations in 1993, all that remains of the burned-down compound is the eerie swimming pool.
1781 Double EE Ranch Rd, Waco, TX 76705
Photo via sincanvas
Ozymandias on the plains
Artist Lightnin’ McDuff erected these “vast and trunkless legs” off the highway in a vast field, a physical artistic reference to the 1818 short poem “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Vandals recurrently paint socks on the giant feet. Beware of roaming cows with Romantic affinities.
I-27 and Sundown Lane, Amarillo, TX
Photo via jlg_atx
The Salt Palace
Grand Saline, as its name may clue, has remained an enduring hub of the salt economy and probably will stay that way for the next few millennia. To pay homage to the town’s livelihood, the Salt Palace was originally erected for the Texas Centennial and has since been remade to stand permanently, made of local salt blocks and “exhibiting salt mining artifacts and memorabilia.”
100 West Garland St., Grand Saline, TX, (903) 962-5631
Photo via iamjimtuttle
World’s smallest skyscraper
Not everything’s bigger in Texas. Petroleum landman, structural engineer and aspiring con artist J.D. McMahon decided shortly after the 1912 oil boom that the offices in the one-story Newby building needed more space. So, he convinced investors to fund $200,000 (nearly $3 million in 2017) for a highrise annex that they wrongfully assumed would be 480 feet high. Unfortunately for them, McMahon actually wrote 480”, not 480’, and the sleight of pen held up in court. Construction was finished in 1919, and McMahon skipped town a wiser and richer man. Currently, this monument of gullibility houses an antique shop that, however quaint, is most likely not worth $3 million.
701 La Salle, Wichita Falls, TX
Photo via plindarose
The ghost town of Terlingua
A cemetery, some strange sculptures, the Terlingua Trading Company and some pulverulent buildings are all that remain of this ghost town, once “the world’s quicksilver capital” according to the Texas Historical Commission. Deserted (emphasis on the desert) after WWII, “Terlingua Proper” actually still has several dozen residents who have preserved the structures dating back to the Old West. Terlingua also claims to have invented the chili cook-off (in 1967), so on the first weekend of every November, Terlingua becomes a hive of countless partying chili pilgrims.
100 Ivey St, Terlingua, TX 79852 (the address of the Terlingua Trading Company, the informal town center) Photo via phoebepumpkin
Fort Worth water sculpture
Built in 1974, this dynamic work of architecture by Philip Johnson and John Burgee was designed as a gift to the people of Forth Worth, meant to be a refreshing oasis in the city. Tragically, the hypnotic nature of the mist combined with unusually heavy rains one day may have contributed to the deaths of 4 people who drowned here in 2004; the park reopened later after reconstructing the pool to have a depth of 2 feet instead of 9.
1502 Commerce St, Fort Worth, TX 76102, (817) 392-7111
Photo via guiadallasoficial
Leaning (water) tower of Texas
We couldn’t include a Texas Eiffel Tower on the list without including the Texan response to Pisa: a water tower that Ralph Britten saved from rejection and turned into an attention-getter for his truck stop simply by setting it in the ground at an angle off old Route 66. In an almost cartoonish twist of irony, after years of attracting passersby who warned him that “that tower’s fixing to fall!” the truck stop burned in an electrical fire while the tower remained, thanks to Britten’s filling it partially to secure its center of mass.
I-40 exit 114, Groom, TX, 79039
Photo via breathincycles
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Texas Eiffel Tower, complete with cowboy hat
In order to outdo Tennessee (ceremonially, of course, since Texas is intrinsically superior in every way), who built an Eiffel Tower replica of their own in the same year, the local welders’ union who built this tower added a giant Stetson like a cherry on top to tip the scales, pushing the height to 65 feet.
2025 S. Collegiate Dr, Paris, TX 75460 Photo via thatmattclement
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