This is the Largest Art Car Parade in the world! Houston Art Car Weekend is the
Orange Show's biggest outreach program, a vehicle for the message that art is an
integral part of everyone's everyday life. The weekend's events are part folk art,
part fine art, part wholly artistic expression of every kind, entirely monumental
and thoroughly spectacular! It still continues to amaze us how these artisans do
what they do. It is truly a visual and motorized extravaganza that you should make
a point to watch.
Art Car Parade, Houston, Texas
Construction of the castle began in 1969, when Jim Bishop began construction on a
family cottage, which he decided to surround with rocks. Several neighbors noted
that the structure looked something like a castle. Bishop took this into consideration
and soon began building his castle. He had bought the land when he was fifteen for
a price of $450. He has faced numerous challenges with the local and state government
over ownership and activities on the site. The construction of this castle is an
inspirational achievement and has been featured in a television show. We invite
you to visit and learn more about Jim Bishop’s creation.
It took Ross Ward over 40 years to carve, collect, and lovingly construct what is
now Tinkertown Museum. His miniature wood-carved figures were first part of a traveling
exhibit, driven to county fairs and carnivals in the 1960s and ’70s. Today over 50,000
glass bottles form rambling walls that surround a 22-room museum. Wagon wheels, old
fashioned store fronts, and wacky western memorabilia make Tinkertown’s exterior
as much as a museum as the wonders within. Throughout, eccentric collections of Americana
fill Tinkertown’s winding hallways. Otto the one-man-band and Esmerelda, the Fortune
Teller, need only a quarter to play a tune or predict your future. Through a doorway
and across a ramp waits a big-sized surprise: a 35′ antique wooden sailboat that
braved a 10 year voyage around the world.
Tinkertown Museum, Sandia Park, New Mexico
One hot August day in the late 1960’s near Palmyra, Tennessee, E.T. Wickham put down
his trowel from working on the statue of Civil War heroes Sam Davis and Bill Marsh.
After resting in the shade for awhile, he walked to a nearby hickory tree and tacked
a small wooden sign to it. The sign read:
WICKHAM STONE PARK - So the story goes... Whether this actually happened or not,
it cannot be denied there is a lot of stone in the park. From 1950 to his death in
1970, he molded some forty tons of concrete into statues of Indian chiefs, politicians,
patriots, and religious figures. The record shows that during this period he built
over 30 life-size concrete statues. He was an exceptional folk artist.
The ABITA MYSTERY HOUSE , also known as the UCM Museum is a roadside attraction in
Abita Springs near New Orleans. It is a folk art environment with 1000s of found
objects, and home made inventions. Tourists see a miniature Southern town with push-buttons
that activate animated “displays.” On exhibit are odd collections, memorabilia, pure
junk, and old arcade machines that are fun to play. Abita Springs, Louisiana is a
historic small town known for its brewery, spring water, and bicycle trails. Overall,
this is a Louisiana side trip that is just plain fun. Check it out - they say it’s
the most intriguing and provocative museum in the State. Don’t miss it.
Abita Springs Mystery House, Louisiana
Eastern State Penitentiary was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world,
but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard
towers. Known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, this was the world’s
first true “penitentiary,” a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret,
in the hearts of convicts. Its vaulted, sky-lit cells once held many of America’s
most notorious criminals, including bank robber “Slick Willie” Sutton and Al Capone.
Designed by John Haviland and opened on October 25, 1829, Eastern State is considered
to be the world's first true penitentiary- today - Ghost Tours, Adventure and History
Tours keep it alive.
In the early 1950’s, 3 surveyors named Clarence, Fred and McCray came from California
to explore the Upper Peninsula. They stumbled across an area of land where their
surveying equipment didn’t seem to work properly. For instance, no matter how many
times they tried to level their tripod, through the use of a plum-bob or level, the
plum-bob would always be drawn far to the east, even as the level was reading level.
As they continued their research of this land, they noticed a constant feeling of
being light-headed. Later, realizing their queasiness and problems with the surveying
equipment only occurred in an area about 300 feet in diameter, they felt they had
discovered a “Mystery Spot”.
Saint Ignace Mystery Spot, Michigan
One of the most amazing pieces of religious folk art in the Midwest is found in the
small town of Dickeyville in southwest Wisconsin. Located beside the Holy Ghost Roman
Catholic Church, the Dickeyville Grotto and Shrines are dedicated to the love of
God and the love of country. The landmark was created by Father Mathias Wernerus,
who served the Holy Ghost parish from 1918 to his death in 1931. Using stone, mortar,
glass, tiles, fossils, shells, petrified wood, and brightly colored objects of dizzying
variety, he created a series of interconnected grottos and shrines that fill much
of a city block. Wernerus was a German-born immigrant who came to the U.S. in 1904.
While touring the Winchester Mystery house's 160 rooms you should look for the bizarre
phenomena that gave the mansion its name; a window built into the floor, staircases
leading to nowhere, a chimney that rises four floors, doors that open onto blank
walls, and upside down posts! No one has been able to explain the mysteries that
exist within the Winchester Mansion, or why Sarah Winchester kept the carpenters'
hammers pounding 24 hours a day for 38 years. It is believed that after the untimely
deaths of her baby daughter and husband, son of the Winchester Rifle manufacturer,
Mrs. Winchester was convinced by a medium that continuous building would appease
the evil spirits of those killed by the famous "Gun that Won the West" .
Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, California
Thunder Mountain Monument is owned by Frank Van Zant- who cares for this unique roadside
??attraction??--five acres jam-packed with exotic folk art and architectural oddities
that his late father created over a period of three decades beside Interstate Highway
80 in Pershing County. Frank Van Zant, also known as Chief Rolling Mountain Thunder,
described his roadside art park variously as a museum, a monument to the American
Indian, a retreat for pilgrims aspiring to the “pure and radiant heart.” Many of
his neighbors feared Van Zant; others revered him as a spiritual guru.
America The Beautiful has prepared a list of interesting sights that may not be exactly what you are searching for but will prove to be an interesting addition to your travels across America. Each of the sights shown here shows the diversity and uniqueness of the extensive American Culture. People and places that are out of the ordinary while exhibiting a freedom to express their creativity, dreams, desires and heritage. We hope you enjoy and Make a point to visit our Curiousities of America list as outlined below. Enjoy America - Unique it is!