Kitschy America, Roadside Oddities
Some of the Kitschiest Attractions in America
A Trip Down Memory Lane ~ Along Historic Route 66, Enjoy!
Only in America... maybe!
One of the things that can make traveling by car through the United States of America a truly interesting experience is the wealth of "kitschy" attractions you can find on America's roadways!
I think my favorite attraction is one that we used to stop at when we were on the road traveling from Maryland to Florida to take our boys to Disney World near Orlando when they were little. We would always HAVE to stop at the "South of The Border" kitschy roadside stop located in Dillon, South Carolina.
This attraction featured billboards for miles before you would even arrive at South of the Border. They would advertise in ways that would really catch your eye and were especially effective at getting the attention of KIDS! I can remember one billboard in particular that told the kids to "Keep Yelling Kids, They'll Stop". How annoying (and funny!) is that? And of course there were billboards featuring the old jokes "You Never Sausage A Place. You'll Always Be A Wiener", and how about the lame Mexican weather report - "Chili Today, Hot Tamale."
South of The Border has been one of the "landmarks" of the southeast for over 50 years now. The stop features such attractions as a Reptile Lagoon, where you can see all kinds of snakes, alligators and crocodiles. Another attraction is "Pedroland Park" with rides for the kids, as well as two miniature golf courses. And you wouldn't want to miss the "Sombrero Tower." Go to the top of the tower in the glass elevator to see a beautiful, panoramic scene of the South Carolina countryside.
For anyone who is a fan of "the world's largest" kitsch, they will really get a kick out of the "World's Largest Catsup Bottle," which is really a water tower, located in Collinsville, Illinois. The water tower (catsup bottle) stands 170 feet high, and was built in 1949 by the W.E. Caldwell company for the catsup bottling plant that produced "Brooks" original tangy catsup. It's located next to route 159, just a little bit south of Collinsville.
In 1995, the gigantic catsup bottle was scheduled to be demolished, but instead was saved as a historic place that appears on the National Registration of Historic Places. It is known the world over to be a wonderful example of roadside "Americana." Now what other historic place do you know of that has both it's very own official website AND a Fan Club? Well, ok, so there might be others out there, but none as tasty as the world's biggest big catsup bottle! The residents of Collinsville even have an annual festival in honor of it's famous landmark. Pardon me, do you have an Grey Poupon.... (I'm DUCKING now!)
Down the road a bit, you will find another curiosity that deserves at least as much mention as the World's Largest Catsup Bottle, and that is a building in Newark, Ohio that houses the offices for the Longaberger Basket Company. I had never even heard of "Longaberger" until some friends of mine started collecting these extremely well made, trendy and popular baskets. They are not only functional, but beautiful and stylish as well! And this building is in (you guessed it) the shape of a giant basket!
This basket shaped building stands an amazing 7 stories high. It features a 30,000 square foot atrium with a skylight ceiling so visitors can see the basket handles (and enjoy the sunlight) that shines brightly through this skylight ceiling. Building this was an amazing architectural feat, and I've been told that it's a neat place to visit (by my friends who collect the baskets). I'll have to take their word for it until I'm able to go there and see it for myself one day!
Other Uniquely American And Always Kitschy Roadside Attractions ~
One fascinating landmark that we did drive by on our way from Wisconsin out to Las Vegas, Nevada was called "Cadillac Ranch" located just outside of Amarillo, Texas. Built in 1974 by a bunch of "art hippies" from San Francisco, it was meant as a tribute to the Cadillac tail fin. Ten Cadillacs, ranging in years from 1949 to 1963 were driven out to this field, then buried nose down so the tail fins would show. They are buried on land that belongs to Amarillo billionaire, Stanley Marsh III. Now supposedly, they are buried at the same angle as the Great Pyramid of Giza, facing West. Drivers going by are encouraged to stop and put their "mark" on the cadillac tail fins by spray-painting graffiti on them.
We didn't actually stop, because at that time, we were driving through Amarillo, in the process of moving to Las Vegas, and we had two "starting to get grumpy" kitties in the back of our car. We figured they wouldn't stand for an unplanned stop for very long, but we did observe the caddies from the road, and they were a sight to see!
And another fascinating example of roadside "kitsch" (although I'm not sure this is exactly "kitsch") is the London Bridge located in Lake Havasu, Arizona. This is the real London Bridge (yes, the "London Bridge" from the song most of us might remember from childhood, the one that was "falling down.") The bridge was indeed "sinking" into the Thames river, it was 130 years old at the time and due to increased traffic, began sinking. It was purchased by Robert McCulloch, a founder of Lake Havasu and the chairman of McCulloch Oil Corp, in 1962. It was dis-assembled, and the pieces were numbered, then it was transported to the United States.
It was re-assembled and completed in 1971, and it measures 950 feet long, and weighs 33,000 tons. It seems amazing to me that something like this was actually MOVED from one country to another, and there is a bronze plaque nearby attesting to the friendship between Britain and the United States. Truly a sight to see! It stands as a piece of history that will always be remembered.