News

    Roadside Attractions Lose Appeal in US

    Many are by-passed, going out of business

    You’ll find this fiberglass muskie - a fierce lake fish - and the less fearsome sunfish outside the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in Wisconsin.
    You’ll find this fiberglass muskie - a fierce lake fish - and the less fearsome sunfish outside the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in Wisconsin.
    Ted Landphair

    Unusual roadside attractions such as snake farms and caverns and fossil museums used to be a mainstay of the American road.

    Drivers looking to give their families interesting breaks along dusty two-lane highways welcomed these diversions.

    But these days, video games and multimillion-dollar theme parks make many of these places seem archaic and boring. Besides, Americans are in too big a hurry, zipping along high-speed interstate highways, to pull off to see some pickle museum.

    So, many of the old-time attractions have closed or are for sale.

    If you show up at the “Prehistoric Forest,” located in the Lake Erie tourist town of Marblehead, Ohio, you won’t be able to see the giant dinosaurs made of fiberglass, or the enormous mastodon that squirts water at visitors, just for fun.

    The place closed for good in 2010, and every attraction inside - from the fierce-looking stegosaurus to the giant three-toed sloth creeping scarily through the woods - is for sale at liquidation prices.

    Paul Bunyan, a folklore giant lumberjack of unusual skill, and his companion, Babe the Blue Ox, were first introduced in 1916 in a logging company’s advertising campaign.
    Paul Bunyan, a folklore giant lumberjack of unusual skill, and his companion, Babe the Blue Ox, were first introduced in 1916 in a logging company’s advertising campaign.

    Although visitation to the park was down, owner Len Tieman says he would have kept going "because kids just love dinosaurs.” But he and his wife, Denise, decided to retire and enjoy the four hectares [10 acres] of wooded property that the park occupies.

    Tieman says he understands why other mom-and-pop roadside attractions are closing - there’s no business. “Computers, video games.” he says. “Plus, the economy’s tight.”

    Among the hundreds of other attractions closed for good are an upside-down house, a peacock farm, something called “Skull Kingdom,” and Cypress Gardens - all in Florida. Cypress Gardens featured costumed southern belles strolling the grounds, and acrobatic shows starring more beautiful women on water skis.

    Not all roadside attractions have disappeared. You can still see the world’s largest prairie dog in Kansas, and visit the pencil-sharpener museum in Ohio and Gatorland in Florida - which even has a petting zoo. Think about it: a petting zoo at an alligator park. Even in these days of video games, that sounds kind of exciting.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Traci from: Go BIG or Go Home blog
    May 21, 2012 12:27 PM
    It's sad, but true. I still love to travel to see oversized roadside attractions, though. The world's largest ball of twine in Kansas is at the top of my bucket list!

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora