Offbeat, Unusual and Unique Roadside Attractions
America and especially western America is full of unique unusual attractions, “tourist traps”, and offbeat roadside attractions. Things I find interesting like headwaters / confluences of major rivers, HQ’s of popular companies, Time Zone Signs, Continental Divides, major historical spots, and more interesting places.
This miscellaneous page might be a bore to someone else but here are places that I find interesting and offbeat from the tourist destinations.
World’s or America’s largest / tiniest / largest / widest or just plain interesting etc.
Interesting Roadside attractions from around the country.
Cavanal – Worlds Highest Hill – Poteau, OK
You may never climb the world’s highest mountain, but you can DRIVE to the top of “The World’s Highest Hill” — 1,999 feet, only one foot shy of a mountain considering the it takes 2,000 ft to be a mountain though technically the summit Cavanal Hill is 2,385 feet high but the sign is located farther down probably at 1,999 feet. Located here 35.0708927,-94.6794837
World’s Largest Jacuzzi – Put-in-Bay Resort
439 Loraine Ave, Put-In-Bay, OH 43456
World’s Smallest Target Store Located in Marathon, Texas
Considered an art installation – similar to the Prada store in Marfa, located East of Alpine, Texas at 30.3080498,-103.4599674
Longaberger Basket Building
1500 E Main St, Newark, OH 43055
World’s Largest Washboard Sunnyland
Columbus Washboard Co
14 Gallagher Ave, Logan, OH 43138
Prada – Marfa Texas
The brainchild of Berlin-based artistic team Elmgreen and Dragset, Prada Marfa was meant to be a “pop architectural land art project.” but it has become a popular tourist destination to see a fake Prada Store in the middle of the Texas desert. It is located about 30 minutes west of Marfa, Texas on US 90. GPS will find it here 30.603488, -104.518436
Mexico – America Border Wall in Fort Hancock, Texas
Long before Trump made it mainstream this part of the wall was already built
World’s Largest Ball of Sisal Twine Cawker City, KS
719 Wisconsin St, Cawker City, KS 67430 39.509295, -98.433724
Total twine length, as of 2018, has surpassed eight million feet, and the ball now weighs over ten tons.
World’s Longest Bar – Beer Barrel Saloon Put-in-Bay
324 Delaware Ave, Put-In-Bay, OH 43456
National Parks / Monuments / Recreation Areas in America
I’ve seen a lot but still a lot more to see. I don’t have the signs for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Gateway Arch and Hot Springs but have been there.
Interesting Memorials and Signs
Plymouth Rock is the traditional site of disembarkation of William Bradford and the Mayflower Pilgrims who founded Plymouth Colony in 1620.
Forest Gump Stopped Running
The sign is on the northbound side of US Hwy 163, either eight miles south of Mexican Hat, or 13 miles north of the Arizona-Utah state line outside of Monument Valley. There are pulloffs on both sides of the highway.
Within just a mile of each other you can find the spots where Forrest Gump stopped running and where Amy & Rory get off the bus and meet up with the Doctor in an episode titled “The Impossible Astronaut”.
Rock n Roll Birthplace
Just outside of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.
End of Route 66
A sign at this spot on the Santa Monica Pier marks the western terminus of Route 66.
Start of the American Revolution. The opening stanza of “Concord Hymn” is inscribed at the base of The Minute Man statue by Daniel Chester French, located at the North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts.
“The shot heard round the world” is a phrase referring to several historical incidents, particularly the opening of the American Revolutionary War in 1775. The first shot of the American Revolution at the Old North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts, where the first British soldiers fell in the battles of Lexington and Concord.
The first long-distance phone call demonstrated to the public was made from Lyceum Hall in Salem, Massachusetts, by inventor Alexander Graham Bell. On February 12, 1877, to universal astonishment, Professor Bell sent a call to his assistant, Watson, who was waiting in Boston. The Salem Lyceum, like everything in Salem, cannot extradite itself from the infamous witch trials. It was built over the orchard owned by the famous Bridget Bishop. Many claim that the hall is haunted and it has been featured on several paranormal shows including Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures.
The Battle of the Thames, also known as the Battle of Moraviantown, was a decisive American victory in the War of 1812 against Great Britain and its Indian allies in Tecumseh’s Confederacy. It took place on October 5, 1813 in Upper Canada, near Chatham, Ontario.
Hurricane Katrina Memorial
5056 Canal St, New Orleans, LA 70119-5835
1100 people died during the hurricane Katrina in August 2005. In this park, you can see the unmarked tombs of the hundreds of victims who’s body were never identified.
Santa Fe – Oregon Trail – California Trail End Sign – Technically to me it is the beginning as this is in Independence, Missouri. All very historically important trails.
On September 1, 1897 Boston opened for business the first Subway in the United States. It was modeled after several European cities (including London which had launched their own 34 years earlier) and was followed a few years later with a subway in New York City
Crossing the Mason Dixon Line on the old Baltimore Pike between Elkton and Newark, DE.
George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River, which occurred on the night of December 25–26, 1776, during the American Revolutionary War, was the first move in a surprise attack organized by George Washington against the Hessian forces in Trenton, New Jersey, on the morning of December 26.
I love Great Water Divides, something awesome to me about water on one side flows to one body of water and another side goes to another. There a few triple peaks out there where the water goes to three different watersheds. I’ve been to the main ones.
View of Triple Divide Peak in the distance, showing the upper end of St. Mary Lake and Wild Goose Island, Glacier National Park, Montana.
Triple Divide Peak marks the division of three major watersheds. If you poured out your water on top of Triple Divide, it would flow into the Columbia River watershed, and eventually the Pacific Ocean; it would flow into the Nelson River watershed, and eventually Hudson Bay and the Arctic Ocean or the Atlantic Ocean which is an ongoing debate to what Hudson Bay belongs too; and it would flow into the Mississippi River watershed, and eventually the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. This is the intersection of the Great Divide and the Laurentian aka the Northern Divide.
Yellowstone Continental Divide in Wyoming and Wolf Creek Pass in Colorado on the Rocky Mountain Range separates water from the Pacific Ocean on the one side and the other flows to the Mississippi River. I have probably crossed the Great Continental Divide at least 20 times over the years.
North/South Continental Divide aka St. Lawrence Seaway Continental Divide near South Bend, Indiana. It goes from Minnesota all the way through Maine and separates the Great Lakes drainage system from the Mississippi River’s drainage system. For instance, where I grew up in Northwest Ohio where rivers flowed to Lake Erie. About 40 minutes south from me the rivers flow to the Ohio River which goes to the Mississippi River watershed where I currently reside.
Eastern Continental Divide or Appalachian Divide
A monument in Duluth, Georgia says that water flows to the Atlantic Ocean and the other side the Gulf of Mexico
Snow Dome and Dome Glacier covered by June snow clouds in Jasper National Park on right with Athabasca Glacier to the left. Snow Dome in Canada is where the Great Divide and the Arctic Divide meet. Water falling on Snow Dome’s summit may flow into streams that drain into the Pacific Ocean (via Bryce Creek, the Bush River and the Columbia River), the Arctic Ocean (via the Sunwapta and Athabasca Rivers), and Hudson Bay (via the North Saskatchewan River). The Dome Glacier flows to the north-east, the Stutfield Glacier to the north-west, the Columbia Glacier to the west and Athabasca Glacier flows to the east of the mountain.
Sunwapta Pass at the border of Jasper and Banff National Parks in Alberta. This marks the watershed divide between the Athabasca River drainage to the north and the North Saskatchewan system to the south. Waters flowing north from this summit eventually reach the Arctic Ocean via the Mackenzie River, while those flowing south cross the prairies via the Saskatchewan and Nelson Rivers to Hudson Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.
New Madrid Fault
The 1811–12 New Madrid earthquakes were an intense intraplate earthquake series beginning with an initial earthquake of moment magnitude 7.5–7.9 on December 16, 1811, followed by a moment magnitude 7.4 aftershock on the same day. They remain the most powerful earthquakes to hit the contiguous United States east of the Rocky Mountains in recorded history.
Headwaters and Confluence of Major Rivers
Headwaters is basically the start of or close to the forming part of its source.
Headwaters of the Columbia River
Columbia River is the largest river in North America that flows into the Pacific Ocean at 1,240 miles long. Its headwater is at Columbia Lake in British Columbia, Canada.
Headwaters of the Ohio River
Ohio River is formed by the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers at Pittsburgh, it flows to join the Mississippi River at Cairo, Illinois, after a course of 981 miles (1,579 km).
Headwaters of the Missouri River
The Madison River (left) meets the Jefferson River on right. The start of the Missouri River which is the longest river in the United States at 2,300 miles long as it goes to the Mississippi River.
Confluences of Major Rivers
Confluence is the junction of two rivers or where two rivers of near equal width meet.
About a mile downstream from the headwaters of the Missouri River the Gallatin River meets the Missouri River in a confluence.
Confluences of Major Rivers
Confluence is the junction of two rivers or where two rivers of near equal width meet.
Confluences of the Mississippi River (left) meeting the much larger Ohio River (right) with Cario, Illinois in the far background.
The dark brown of the Ohio River (left) with the visually cleaner Mississippi River (right) water starting to mix. These are perspectives that only a drone or plane could bring. In this case a DJI Phantom 3 Pro drone.
The confluence of the Snake River into the Columbia River that goes to the Pacific Ocean.
Zero Mile Marker
Zero mile markers were markers where early drivers could set their odometers to follow directions in early guidebooks. Also known as control stations or control points, the markers or landmarks were locations that allowed travelers to have a precise point to start the travel using directions in early guide books.
Washington, DC. Zero Mile Marker. There is some interesting history to this which can be read here. Intended as the initial milestone from which all road distances on the highway system in the United States should be measured when it was built as the nation was seeing the need for better roads. At present, only roads in the Washington, D.C. area have distances measured from it. Zero Milestone monument was conceived by Good Roads Movement advocate Dr. S. M. Johnson, formally proposed on June 7, 1919. He was inspired by ancient Rome’s Golden Milestone located in the Forum. On July 7, 1919, a temporary marker for the Zero Milestone was dedicated on the Ellipse south of the White House during ceremonies launching the Army’s first attempt to send a convoy of military vehicles across the country to San Francisco, California.
When this marker was dedicated on June 4, 1923, it was expected that it would be the milestone from which all road distances in the U.S. would be reckoned. Obviously, people in places like Oregon and California didn’t like the idea that their road markers would begin and end in the 3,000s, and the idea was scrapped. Now the Zero Milestone only anchors roads distances in Washington, DC.
The Washington Zero Milestone monument has the following written on it.
- North: ZERO MILESTONE
- East: STARTING POINT OF SECOND TRANSCONTINENTAL MOTOR CONVOY OVER THE BANKHEAD HIGHWAY, JUNE 14, 1920
- South: POINT FOR THE MEASUREMENT OF DISTANCES FROM WASHINGTON ON HIGHWAYS OF THE UNITED STATES
- West: STARTING POINT OF FIRST TRANSCONTINENTAL MOTOR CONVOY OVER THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY, JULY 7, 1919
In addition, a “brass plate placed on the ground at the north base” shown below, contains the following inscription.
- THE U.S. COAST AND GEODETIC SURVEY DETERMINED THE LATITUDE, LONGITUDE AND ELEVATION OF THE ZERO MILESTONE AUTHORIZED BY ACT OF CONGRESS JUNE 5, 1920 DEDICATED JUNE 4, 1923
Currently, there are three Zero Mile Markers, the main one in D.C., Richmond, Virginia and Nashville, Tennessee.
Richmond, Virginia Zero Mile Marker
Just east of the intersection of Grace and 9th streets at the northwestern corner of Virginia State Capitol Square, downtown Richmond, Va. If you have a GPS, look around this area: 37.539762, -77.434215
The three-foot tall stone and bronze marker is the official Virginia highway point of measurement of distances from Richmond for Virginia.
Nashville, Tennessee Zero Mile Marker
Located in Nashville at the edge of Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park and James Robertson Parkway. If you have a GPS, look around this area: 36.168524, -86.785993
It replaces the original 1924 milestone, which was placed as part of the Lee Highway Association and AAA push to have zero milestones in each city.
Salem Witch Trials Memorial
Bridget Bishop. Victim of the Salem Witch Trials. Born sometime between 1632 and 1637. Bishop married three times. Bridget often kept the gossip mill busy with stories of her publicly fighting with her various husbands, entertaining guests in home until late in the night, drinking and playing the forbidden game of shovel board, and being the mistress of two thriving taverns in town. Some even went so far as to say that Bishop’s “dubious moral character” and shameful conduct caused, “discord to arise in other familes, and young people were in danger of corruption.” Bishop’s blatant disregard for the respected standards of puritan society made her a prime target for accusations of witchcraft. In April, 1692, a warrant was issued for Bridget’s arrest on charges of performing witchcraft and consorting with the devil himself. With a whole town against her, Bridget was charged, tried, and executed within eight days. On June 10, as crowds gathered to watch, she was taken to Gallows Hill and executed by the sheriff, George Corwin. She displayed no remorse and professed her innocence at her execution. After her hanging, eighteen others were executed for the crime of witchcraft, and one man was pressed to death. Several others died in prison.
Martha Ingalls Allen Carrier. Salem Witch Trial Victim. Convicted of practicing witchcraft and hanged during the Salem Witch Trials. Some believe that she was accused of witchcraft in Salem in 1692 because she was a niece of the Rev. Francis Dane of Andover. (Over one third of the Salem accused were related to him or his wife in some way.) Martha’s trial was fully transcribed at the direction of Cotton Mather, who believed this case to represent the strongest case for the use of spectral evidence. The evidence he found persuasive was the testimony of Martha’s 16-year old-son, Richard, and her 12-year-old daughter, Sarah, that she made them become witches to “haunt” others at her direction. However, John Proctor (who was hung the same day as Martha) wrote the governor that he witnessed these children’s torture in the jail where he was also imprisoned: they were reportedly tied neck to ankles (with a rope down their backs) and left that way until said what their interrogators wanted to hear.
Giles Corey. Their case finally went before the court in September 1692, he refused to enter a plea, stating that he was not willing to submit himself to a trial by a jury that he believed had already decided his guilt. Because he refused to enter a plea, he was sentenced to peine forte et dure (‘pressing’) to force him to plea, even though the practice had been deemed illegal by the colony government. About September 19, he was stripped and a board placed upon his chest, and then heavy stones piled upon it. A contemporary report stated, “About noon, at Salem, Giles Corey was pressed to death for standing mute.”
Mary Ayer Parker. In September 1692, she was arrested on a charge of witchcraft. Under examination, she stated “I know nothing of it. There is another woman of the same name in Andover.” There were at least three other women called Mary Parker in Andover, but that fact was ignored by the magistrates, and in unseemly haste they tried and convicted the Mary Parker on hand, finding her guilty on September 17, 1692, only 16 days after she was first named. On September 22, she, Martha Corey, Margaret Scott, Mary Easty, Alice Parker, Ann Pudeator, Wilmott Redd, and Samuel Wardwell were hanged on Gallows Hill.
Sarah Solart Good. Salem Witch Trial Defendant. A second marriage to William Good, a weaver, was burdened with her first husband’s debts. They were forced to sell their property to settle the debts, leaving them homeless and destitute. They were forced to beg for food and work among her neighbors, she sometimes spoke against those who did not help, making her a figure of dislike. On February 29, 1692, she was named a witch, and a warrant was issued for her arrest. She appeared at a hearing on March 1, and was examined by John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin, she maintained her innocence and she was the first to testify in the Salem Witchcraft trials. On June 29, she and four other defendants were pronounced guilty of witchcraft and sentenced to hang. Under the noose, she was urged to confess by the local Reverend, she was reported as responding: “I am no more a witch than you are a wizard, and if you take away my life, God will give you blood to drink.” On July 19, 1692 the five women were hanged at Gallows Hill. The victims were then disposed of in an unmarked, common grave, now lost. In 1957, the state of Massachusetts formally apologized for the witch trials.
Elizabeth Jackson Howe. Salem Witch Trial Defendant. In 1658, she married James How or Howe, they would have six children together. They lived on a farm in Topsfield, where they had difficult neighbors, who in 1682, accused Elizabeth of bewitching their 10-year-old daughter, she was never arrested or brought up on charges. More difficulties arose as her husband gradually went blind, losing his sight by the age of 50. In May 1692, she was accused of witchcraft by girls in Salem Village. An arrest warrant was issued and she was examined on May 31. She was indicted on two charges of witchcraft and imprisoned. Her trial began on June 29, and the old charge was again aired in addition to the histrionics of the accusing girls. The Reverend Samuel Phillips, however swore that the ‘bewitched’ child recanted her accusation against Howe. Nevertheless, she was found guilty and condemned. Three weeks later, she was hanged at Gallows Hill, her body was then disposed of in an unmarked, common grave, now lost.
George Jacobs, Sr. He and his wife attended church infrequently, and he was known for his “salty tongue” and quick temper. He was in court in 1677 for striking a man while in a rage. George was accused by his own granddaughter of practicing witchcraft, and arrested on May 10, 1692. He went on trial August 5, and after failing to properly recite the Lord’s Prayer (George was illiterate), he was found guilty. On conviction, he stated, “Well burn me or hang me. I’ll stand in the truth of Christ.” George and four others met their ends on Gallows Hill two weeks later. His last words were, “I am falsely accused. I never did it.”
Martha Corey. Victim of the Salem Witch Trials. Martha and her husband were both accused of witchcraft. Martha being first accused before her husband. The community was surprised to see Martha accused, as she was known for her piety and dedicated church attendance. She had never shown support for the witch trials, since she did not believe witches existed. Also known as Goodwife Corey, Martha was a new but upstanding member of the congregation. Her trial was the scene of much agitation. In the courtroom Martha’s accusers writhed in agony as they were forced by an unseen power to mimic the witch’s every movement. When Martha shifted her feet the girls did also, when Martha bit her lip the girls were compelled to bite their own lips, crying out in pain. This was evidence enough to persuade the jury of her guilt.
Susannah North Martin. In 1669, William Sargent accused Susannah of witchcraft. George Martin sued Sargent for slander against Susannah and a higher court dismissed the witchcraft charges. George Martin died in 1686 and Susannah remained in Amesbury. In 1692, at the age of 71, she was accused of being a witch by several residents of Salem Village (now the Town of Danvers), which is located about 25 miles south of Amesbury. Susannah was arrested and tried for witchcraft. None of the accused were represented by council and during her trial, she defended herself defiantly. She was found guilty and hanged on July 19, 1692, along with four other women. All were placed in a shallow unmarked grave. Over 400 people were accused during the Salem witchcraft hysteria. Of those convicted, twenty were executed and four died in prison.
Rebecca Towne Nurse. Salem Witch Trials Defendant. Convicted of practicing witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials. In most cases, the bodies of those hanged or pressed were cast off into a shallow ditch, not deserving of a Christian burial due to the charge of witchcraft. However, the family of Rebecca Nurse, according to legend, got to her body, removed it from the ditch in Salem and possibly buried it in secret on the family farm in Salem Village (now Danvers, MA). Where, exactly, is lost to history. Several years after her execution, it was agreed that she had been innocent of being a witch.
John Proctor, Jr. In March of 1692, his servant joined in the hysteria of the which trials and began accusing others of witchcraft. His wife, Elizabeth, was accused of witchcraft on April 4 and examined in court, and during the examination, the accusers began to shift their focus from Elizabeth to her husband . Proctor was officially indicted on April 11, 1692 on three charges of witchcraft. Many friends of the couple came to their defense and signed a petition asking for them to be released to no avail. Proctor was hanged on August 19; his body was then disposed of in an unmarked, common grave, now lost.
Mary Towne Easty. Mary had a very good reputation in the village. She was examined on April 21, 1692, calmly pleading innocence. Magistrate John Hathorne even asked the plaintiffs if they were sure they had accused the right person. She was released on her own recognizance on May 18, and all of the accusers, except one, seemed willing to let their accusations ease off. The final accuser, however, went into fits and claimed Mary was trying to kill her. The accuser’s fits did not ease until Mary had been returned to prison and placed in irons in a clear demonstration of the power of the accusers. From prison, she and her sister wrote a petition to the magistrates asking for a fair trial, and that the testimony of accusers be dismissed since ‘spectral evidence’ lacked legality. Their petition was disregarded, and she was convicted and sentenced to hang.
Samuel Wardwell. Convicted of practicing witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials. There are twenty benches in the memorial, one for each of the victims actively put to death (not counting those who died in prison).
Sarah Averell Wildes. Convicted of practicing witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials. There are twenty benches in the memorial, one for each of the victims actively put to death (not counting those who died in prison).
George Burroughs. Victim of the Salem Witch Trials. George was raised by his mother in the town of Roxbury. George Burroughs was the only Puritan minister indicted and executed in Salem in 1692. He served as minister of Salem Village from 1680 until he left in 1683. As one of the succession of three ministers who left the Village in the years leading up to the trials, he became involved in the Village’s social conflicts. Twelve years later, he was charged, arrested and brought back to Salem from Wells, Maine. Many members of the Salem Village and Andover testified against him and called him the “ring leader” of the witches, a virtual priest of the devil. Cotton Mather also took particular interest in the trial because of George’s unorthodox religious beliefs and practices. He was found guilty and executed. While standing on a ladder before the crowd, waiting to be hanged, he successfully recited the Lord’s Prayer, something that was generally considered by the Court of Oyer and Terminer to be impossible for a witch to do. His hanging was the only one attended by Cotton Mather.
John Willard. Convicted of practicing witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials. There are twenty benches in the memorial, one for each of the victims actively put to death (not counting those who died in prison).
Alice Parker. Of all those accused as witches, she is one of those about whom the least is known. She was a resident of Salem Towne and may have been married to a fisherman, John Parker. She was first examined on May 12, 1692 where it was implied that she had murdered the mother of one of the accusing girls through witchcraft. She said she knew neither the dead woman or the accuser, “I never spoke a word to her in my Life.” Parker stated her innocence from the beginning and maintained her avowal throughout her trial. She was, as a matter of course, found guilty and condemned to die.
Wilmot Redd. The wife of Samuel Redd, a fisherman in their village, she was accused by several village girls were supposedly “afflicted” by her witchcraft and in turn had become hysterical. An elderly woman supposedly not well liked by the womenfolk of the town, she was apprehended May 28, 1692 by James Smith. She was taken to the Salem Village for a preliminary examination on May 31, 1692, where following she was indicted and put in jail. At her trial held a few months later she was denied defense counsel and on September 17, 1692 she was condemned to be hung.
Margaret Stephenson Scott. Witch Trials Victim. She was convicted of practicing witchcraft during the 1692 Salem Witch Trials.
Ann Pudeator. She became caught in the accusations of witchcraft, and a warrant for her arrest was issued on May 12, 1692. She denied having ever even met those who were claiming to be afflicted. She was accused of killing her second husband, his first wife, and to women who had been her patients. She maintained her innocence, and insisted that she did not know her accusers, who bore false witness against her. She was found guilty and condemned, and was among the last of the executions resulting from the Salem Witch trials.