Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Monday, April 15

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr


Brenda / August 15, 2005 11:24 AM

Bowling Hall of Fame in St. Louis.

aj / August 15, 2005 11:27 AM

Mount Carroll's Raven's Grin haunted house. You have to experience it to believe it... a lot corny, but truly original.

Pat / August 15, 2005 12:05 PM

Bar-none, hands-down without a doubt has to be Dr. Evermor's Forevertron outside of Madison. Part Rube Goldberg, part Jules Verne, and a whole lot of industrial junk put to good use.

runner up: House on the Rock
honorable mention for kookiness: The Gold Pyramid in Wadsworth

Sonya Arko / August 15, 2005 12:55 PM

Everyone must see "Spindle", a sculpture in The Cermak Plaza Shopping Center, Berwyn, Illinois. It consists of 9 cars speared on a spike like a shish kebob. The artist is Dustin Shuler.

Benjy / August 15, 2005 1:08 PM

I was going to say House on the Rock, but since that was already mentioned, I'll go with the Mt. Horeb Mustard Museum in Mt. Horeb, WI.

Nicole / August 15, 2005 1:08 PM

"Everyone must see "Spindle", a sculpture in The Cermak Plaza Shopping Center, Berwyn, Illinois. It consists of 9 cars speared on a spike like a shish kebob. The artist is Dustin Shuler."

I had a dream about that the other day, purely from seeing the ads for it up in the El- I'd never heard of it otherwise. Very strange.

IV / August 15, 2005 1:23 PM

"Everyone must see "Spindle", a sculpture in The Cermak Plaza Shopping Center, Berwyn, Illinois. It consists of 9 cars speared on a spike like a shish kebob. The artist is Dustin Shuler."

I had a dream about that the other day, purely from seeing the ads for it up in the El- I'd never heard of it otherwise. Very strange."

I always thought this was in Aurora because of the Wayne's World Movie up until I saw those same ads in the L.

waleeta / August 15, 2005 1:34 PM

House on the Rock scares me to tears. Weirdo with a doll collection and a room that goes off the edge of a cliff. gives me the willies.

Oketo / August 15, 2005 1:43 PM

Leaning Tower of Pisa - in Niles!

Carl / August 15, 2005 1:47 PM

The entire town of Berwyn.

Eamon / August 15, 2005 1:47 PM

My wife and I were lucky enough to see the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices in Minneapolis, Minnesota before the curator, Bob McCoy, retired. Bob introduced himself while we were inspecting the radium suppositories and prostate warmers by shouting, "Hello there, young people! See anything in that case you like?" He then proceeded to describe in loud, agonizing detail exactly how these things were supposed to work, drawing quite a crowd. Equal parts embarrassing and informative!

redliner / August 15, 2005 2:02 PM

nothing will ever top the total weirdness of the House on the Rock. Runner up is Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska. Third place to the cute little Liar's Hall of Fame in Dannebrog, Nebraska.

NotSoHealthy / August 15, 2005 2:03 PM

This could be considered in the "South" rather than "Midwest" but The Jack Daniels Distillery outside of Nashville is awesome.

Brian / August 15, 2005 2:20 PM

got a few
The last farm located in the city of Chicago at 111th & Pulaski. (No longer privately owned it is now the high school for Agricultural Science but still a farm nonetheless.)

The abandoned Dixie Square Mall in Harvey (The mall that was used in the filming of the Blues Brothers)

The haunted Irish Castle at 103rd and Longwood in Beverly.

Bachelors Grove abandoned cemetary in the Forest Preserves off of the midlothian Turnpike in Oak Forest. This is the scariest place on earth!

Lori / August 15, 2005 2:20 PM

The "Shrine Of the Pines" near Irons Michigan (close to Manistee- you can take the ferry from Milwaukee~!) a cabin containing a large collection of furniture and other useful items made entirely of pine tree roots.

mutantmachine / August 15, 2005 2:24 PM

The Mars Cheese castle up in Kenosha. This thing is unbeleivable. A castle entirely made from cheese, this castle stands the test of time. They even let you slice off a peice of the castle and make a mean cheese sandwich for under $5.

mike-ts / August 15, 2005 4:05 PM

So what if someone beat me to the punch, I second the Mars Cheese Castle!

You have to go there around Christmas time - they decorate it so well it would make Santa jealous. And that's when they have the Toblerone bars big enough to clobber someone with for sale.

And they have the best apple pie I've ever bought - sure, the price is up there, but it is worth every penny. And if you go to the lunch counter, you can get the best ham and cheese sandwich of your life.

Of course, the cheese! No better cheddar have I bought anywhere else. And who but they would come up with chocolate cheese?

Plenty of wine for sale, and the art section is really nice - not kitchy at all - and is dominated by Native American themed stuff.

And sign the guest register. Flip through the pages, and you'll see visitors from every point of the compass, near and far.

If Mario Sr. (the founder and Mars namesake) is still around, make sure you smile and wave. If not, give your props to Mario Jr., who's always floating around.


I'm sneaking in a may-as-well if you go up there. If you're there for lunch/early dinner, go north a few miles further (way before Racine, I'm sure) and visit Little Europe restaurant, on the east side of 41. Look them up for the address, and call to check their hours.

It's founded by a couple who escaped the Iron Curtain and came to Milwaukee to work for a few years to earn money to accomplish their dream of having their own restaurant. The man's dream was to be a chef, and boy oh boy did he do well in spades! The meals, which are mainly German fare (schnitzel & spatzle & goulashsuppen), would make you think you were in the old country if you closed your eyes. Having been stationed in Bavaria for two years and enjoying the mom & pop restaurants there, I know what's good.

paul / August 15, 2005 4:10 PM

I'm really surprised that anyone would make House on the Rock a runner up if they've been there. Forevertron must be truely impressive.

If you want to avoid admission prices, go all the way up to Oshkosh Wisc, and check out M. Schettl Freight Sales. Fields of giant fiberglass animals and other oddities. And warehouse full of other junk/treasures. It's surreal to see a Wisconsin field full of grazing pink elephants, dinosaurs and oversize deer. For fairly modest prices, you could take one home.

M. Schettl

Chad / August 15, 2005 5:29 PM

C'mon people... Wall Drug of South Dakota! So cheesy, so tacky, so good!

Runner up: Circus Museum, Baraboo, Wisconsin.

leah / August 15, 2005 6:25 PM

Definitely not a destination attraction, and I've mentioned this place before, but the grotto in Dickeyville, WI is not to be missed. While you're at the House on the Rock, swing by this small town and check it out. And don't miss the gift shop. I scored a sweet religious hair comb once.

Freakshow--er, I mean--Grotto!

Also in SW WI is The Cave of the Mounds. Caves! Underneath giant mounds! A popular field trip destination in my day.


Brandy / August 15, 2005 8:30 PM

Curse you, Pat! You beat me to my proclaimation:

Leelah / August 15, 2005 9:09 PM

While Wall Drug is good, the Corn Palace in South Dakota kicks its ass. It's redecorated every year, and no part of the corn goes to waste!

paul / August 15, 2005 9:48 PM

While South Dakota could perhaps be the mecca state for roadside attractions (followed closely by WI), I can't consider it the Midwest. Perhaps cause I'm from NJ.

karen / August 15, 2005 10:07 PM

i like meramec caverns in stanton, missouri the best (though the corn palace does rock)... where else can you see stalagmites AND enjoy nature's air conditioning? and you cant go wrong with jesse james' hideout.

Huckle Cat / August 15, 2005 10:13 PM

I love the gigunda Amoco sign in St. Louis.

Ron / August 15, 2005 10:47 PM

The giant indian at 63rd and Pulaski.

If you stand in front of the florist on the southwest side of 63rd street you'll notice the indians thumb looks like another body part.

Nick / August 15, 2005 11:39 PM

The biggest ball of twine in Minnesota

Gordon / August 16, 2005 12:09 AM

The Gobbler Restaurant in Johnson Creek, WI.:
Where one can have a nice, romantic dinner for two in a slowly rotating bar. It's architecture can be classified under "Jetson's."

I'd say the Gobbler Motel too, but it burned down, goddamnit. It was just up the hill from the restaurant, shaped like a circle, and each room had something horribly pornographic in it, like a rotating bed, or a one-button/one volume radio which played smooth jazz.

Gobbler Requiem

Jeigh / August 16, 2005 8:00 AM

The "Fountain of Time" in Hyde Park. It's this massive graffito in Washington Park, and it has a reflecting pool. It's 102 feet long and was designed by Larado Taft. I think that it is one of the few things left from the Columbian Exposition, besides the Museum of Science and Industry. I like the tall looming father time. Look at it!

brian / August 16, 2005 8:49 AM

The SPAM museum in Austin, MN isn't the greatest, but it's worth a visit.

Leelah / August 16, 2005 9:36 AM

hey Paul, I'm from New Jersey, too, but I thought the midwest included the Dakotas!

The Spam museum.... when you drive in to Austin, it smells like hell. After you leave the Spam museum, you don't even notice it. Highly disturbing!

eep / August 16, 2005 10:02 AM

I can't believe no one has mentioned Bronner's in Frankenmuth, MI. It's the world's largest Christmas store. It just keeps going and going and going... There's also a Precious Moments chapel right outside the store. Yes, really.

amy / August 16, 2005 12:22 PM

Re: Bowling Hall of Fame. We took a family vacation one summer to the great roller coasters/bowling shrines of the midwest. You can hit Six Flags and the Bowling Hall of Fame - drive on over to Cincinatti and then you hit the Hoinke (the worlds largest amateur bowling tournament) and Kings Island and then on up to Cedar Point on the Ohio/Michigan border. Sandusky is also the minature golf capital of the world. More courses per square mile than anywhere else. Not a lot of bowling there - however the golf makes up for it.

I think I had an odd childhood.

Erica / August 16, 2005 12:30 PM

White Fence Farm is just weird enough to be cool and they have good chicken, too.

I really have a love affair with the Chain-o-Lakes up near the Illinois-Wisconsin border.
If you have a boat or know someone who does, beg them to take you around the lakes. Mineola Motel/Marina is so cool. Al Capone used to hang out up there.

Paula / August 16, 2005 1:08 PM

Ahlgrim's Funeral Home in Palatine, Illinois has a mini-golf course in the basement that's really cool, but call first - 847/358-7411 - because you can only play when there's no funeral in progress.

Mister C / August 20, 2005 1:34 PM

Back from vacation and catchin' up on threads!

The Hoard Historical Museum and Dairy Shrine in Fort Atkinson, WI is both quirky (a shrine to the pioneers of the Dairy Industry & a huge collection of stuffed birds from a local amateur ornithologist) and excellent (an amazing exhibit on the Civil War, focusing on Wisconsin's role in it).

The Fountain of Time was actually done a couple decades after the Columbian Expo (although Taft was a major sculptor for it), but is definitely an incredible piece of work.

Neala / September 1, 2005 4:02 PM

There's an article on the car on the spindle piece and others at Cermack plaza at:

OffbeatTravel -- Car Park.

michael karnes / September 19, 2005 11:54 PM

The House on the Rock in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Everyone's seen the silly billboards for this thing and nobody knows what it is. It is really just a great big house built halfway into a mountain filled with strange relics of days past. Go there and you will be pleasantly surprised and maybe a little weirded out.

Paul Murray / September 11, 2007 12:01 PM

Re: Mars Cheese Castle - lots of junk for sale, other stuff worth buying but NFS (?) all in a sea of thick cigarette smoke to help us tell the difference. Sent us hoofing 80 feet across the county road the he Star-Bar restaurant for N/S eats, and, in the back of the building, tiny little "Tim & Tom's Cheese Shop & More". About 1/10th the size of Mar's with 100 percent of its merchandise for sale, and all worth owning!

Paul Murray / September 11, 2007 12:10 PM

Go to the visitor's center in Clear Lake, Iowa, near Mason City, just minutes below the MN line. Pick up published directions to the exact site of the plane crash that took out Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Richie Valens. in a cornfield about 4 1/2 miles north, north east of the twon of Clear Lake. Visit the Surf Ballroom 1/2 a block away from the lakefront where they did their last gig!

As the local Germans may say, "Ich musse die Willies gehat!"

GB store

Recently on Fuel

Urban Ethos [26]
What is Chicago's "urban ethos"?

Cool Glass of... [16]
What're you drinking?

Supreme Decision [22]
What's your reaction to the Supreme Court's decision on the Affordable Care Act?

Taking it to the Streets [20]
Chicago Street Fairs: Revolting or Awesome?

I Can Be Cruel [9]
Be real: what is the meanest thing you've ever done?

View the complete archive

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15