50 American Small Towns Known for the Weirdest Things
From the largest ball of twine to a yearly mashed potato wrestling competition, these American towns are home to eccentric history.
Ever heard of the town San Luis Obispo? How about Dudleytown? If your answer is no, you are not alone. These small American towns might not be well-known, but they are certainly worth paying attention to. From a monkey island to the world’s biggest peanut, here are the 50 strange things you can find in 50 American small towns. Make sure you also check out the most charming towns in every U.S. state.
Scottsboro, Alabama: Lost luggage capital of the world
If an airline simply cannot track down the owner of a lost piece of luggage, it’s shipped to the Unclaimed Baggage Center in this northeastern Alabama town. From here, the bag and its contents, sight unseen, are sold to the highest bidder. Some of the craziest items ever found include a 5.8 carat solitaire diamond ring and Egyptian artifacts, reports NBC news. If you want to road trip to see all of these wacky sites, here’s your guide to the ultimate American road trip.
Igloo City, Alaska: Abandoned igloo hotel
There are ice hotels all over the world, but this igloo hotel in Alaska didn’t quite make the cut. This giant igloo was never fully operational and is now one of the weirdest ghost towns in America.
Santa Claus, Arizona: Santa’s ghost town
Arizona is an odd place for Santa to live, which is probably why he didn’t make it there for very long. There is an actual town in Arizona named after the Christmas icon, and, as one might expect would happen in the desert, the town’s holiday-themed attractions fell into disrepair. Now it is down right spooky. But don’t worry, there are still plenty of small towns in America with impressive holiday lights.
Alma, Arkansas: Popeye’s Spinach Capital
When the Allen Canning Company in Alma was working at its highest productivity, it was making 65 percent of the world’s spinach. In honor of this achievement, a statue of Popeye and a Popeye water tower are on display in the town, and there’s the Alma Spinach Festival every April. Check out more of the coolest street art in American cities.
San Luis Obispo, California: Bubblegum Alley
Bubblegum Alley is probably better classified as one big public health hazard than street art, but still, tourists love visiting this chewed up alley for truly unique stroll. At 15 feet high and 70 feet long, this gummy mural is the largest collection of used bubblegum.
Picket Wire Canyon, Colorado: Largest dinosaur tracks
Picket Wire Canyon is known by archaeologists and geologists as a hot spot for ancient dinosaur activity. It boasts one of the most concentrated amounts of dinosaur tracks in North America.
Dudleytown, Connecticut: Village of the Damned
One of Connecticut’s spookiest legends and one of the scariest ghost towns in America, Dudleytown is one swirling center of weirdness. No one knows exactly why the village died out, but the fact is that its numbers dwindled one by one until there was no one left. Some blame a curse, while others blame disease or famine. Here are more of the most haunted places in America.
Lewes, Delaware: Merman at Zwaanendael Museum
The Zwaanendael Museum in Lewes, Delaware, houses an “artifact” that the museum keepers know is totally fictional. Still, that doesn’t make it any less of a valuable attraction. A rarity from China, this preserved “merman” skeleton is nothing more than a fish body attached to a monkey skull. The fact that it even exists, though, is probably the strangest thing about it.
Homosassa, Florida: Monkey Island
When the spider monkeys and squirrel monkeys that were brought to Homosassa as part of research on the polio vaccine started making more of a public disturbance than could be tolerated, they were placed on a little make-shift island just off shore in the 1960s. Since then, Monkey Island has been a beloved attraction. These are 35 of the most mispronounced cities in the world.
Ashburn, Georgia: World’s Biggest Peanut
The peach may be Georgia’s official state fruit, but they’re not its top food product. The state’s official crop is the peanut, which is commemorated with a huge peanut monument in Ashburn in the southwestern part of the state. It is known as the “World’s Largest Peanut,” and if you’re nuts about nuts, you can take a tour of The National Peanut Museum in Tifton, Georgia, less than half an hour away from this giant state symbol. Here are more odd museums you never knew existed.
Wahiawa, Hawaii: Pineapple Garden Maze
Pineapples in Hawaii? Not so crazy. However, the locals sure do have a fun way of showing their enthusiasm for the fruit. To show off their world-famous product, Dole created the world’s largest maze in the form of a pineapple at the Dole Plantation in Oahu.
Cottonwood, Idaho: Dog Bark Park Inn
This acclaimed bed and breakfast is the only Beagle-shaped inn in the world. If you love dogs—or even just the idea of a novelty vacation—put up your feet in Cottonwood’s Dog Bark Park Inn. Fire hydrant included. Don’t miss the funniest street names in every state.
Collinsville, Illinois: World’s largest catsup bottle
One of the better known water towers in the United States is the largest catsup (aka ketchup) bottle in the world in Collinsville, Illinois. The town even hosts a catsup festival every summer, because who doesn’t love massive amounts of catsup?
Alexandria, Indiana: World’s largest paint ball
The town of Alexandria, Indiana, has come together over a very weird community art project. It started off with a regular baseball coated with one layer of paint and has transformed into a giant mass made of more than 24,000 coats of paint. Each visitor is allowed to contribute a layer of paint to the project.
Riverside, Iowa: Birthplace of Captain Kirk
The monument marking the birthplace of sci-fi character Captain Kirk is the only monument to celebrate an event that hasn’t happened yet. According to the landmark show Star Trek, Captain Kirk will grace Riverside, Iowa, with his presence on March 22, 2228. Don’t miss these 50 hilarious (and totally real) town names.
Williamstown, Kentucky: Noah’s ark
So it turns out the Bible got it wrong: Noah’s ark is actually in Kentucky. The new holy land! Well, not really. There is a full-sized replica of Noah’s ark in Kentucky, but it’s a museum, not a miracle. The Ark Encounter is some good old-fashioned religious family fun.
Kentwood, Louisiana: Britney Spears exhibit
Pop icon Britney Spears originally called Kentwood home. After she soared to fame, fortune, and a bit of notoriety, the town was so proud of her that they established a Britney Spears exhibit in the Kentwood Museum. The thought is sweet, although it kind of looks like an oversized shrine. But what’s the difference between love and obsession, anyway?
Bangor, Maine: Stephen King’s house
Aside from lobster, Stephen King books are probably Maine’s number one export. The writer is the living embodiment of the horrific and the strange, and to showcase that fact, the entrance to his home in Bangor is a black gate shaped like bats and spiders. Fans make pilgrimages there all of the time to bask in the creepiness of their favorite author. These are 50 things you need to add to your bucket list from across the nation.
Baltimore, Maryland: Edgar Allan Poe’s house
We can’t mention Stephen King on this list and not include his predecessor, Edgar Allan Poe. The founder of the detective story and a true master of horror, Poe was born and raised in Baltimore. His house still stands there today as small museum dedicated to the great American author. Here are 9 more literary landmarks every book lover should visit.
Fall River, Massachusetts: Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast
The tragedy of Lizzie Borden and the murder of her parents is one strange tale. Stranger, maybe, is that the Borden home—the site of the grizzly ax murders—is now a quaint bed and breakfast. Who wouldn’t want to sleep next to ghosts? Here are more of the most haunted hotels in America.
Kalkaska, Michigan: Shoe trees
There are dozens of shoe trees all across the state of Michigan. No, not the kind you keep in your closet, but very literally, trees that are absolutely covered with shoes hanging by the laces. Who started it and what do they all mean? There are rumors, but no one really knows for sure. High school seniors reportedly throw their shoes on a tree north of Kalkaska once they graduate. Other shoe trees around the state are said to be cursed, connected with serial killers, or signs that drugs are sold nearby.
Kensington, Minnesota: Kensington Runestone
The Kensington Runestone has fascinated archaeologists, professors, and history buffs since its discovery in 1898. Containing ancient markings—or runes—from some unidentified European medieval civilization, the Kensington Runestone is evidence that seafarers had access to North America earlier than we thought.
Clarksdale, Mississippi: Devil’s Crossroads
Most people know Mississippi as the birth state of pioneer rock ‘n’ roller Elvis Presley, but there is another wicked musician who is said to have made a wicked deal. The story goes that blues legend Robert Johnson was only able to play so well because he sold his soul to the devil—right here. Check out the spookiest urban legends from every state.
Kansas City, Missouri: Saint John the Baptist’s finger
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, houses an extremely important religious relic: the finger of Saint John the Baptist, or so claims the museum. For Christians worldwide, this is a destination worth traveling to. But, you have to admit, an entire city being famous for one dead finger is pretty odd.
Arlee, Montana: Garden of One Thousand Buddhas
Montana isn’t the most likely place to find a Tibetan Buddhist sanctuary, but lo and behold, there it is. The Garden of One Thousand Buddhas in Arlee is a spiritual space dedicated to helping visitors cultivate their true selves.
Seward, Nebraska: World’s largest time capsule
A man named Harold Davisson loved the year 1975 so much that he did everything he could to make his time capsule the biggest and most impressive one of all. In the ground is a 45 ton vault housing more than 5,000 objects, one of which is a car from that year. The pyramid built atop the original capsule makes it the largest time capsule in the world. You’ll laugh out loud at the best jokes about each of the 50 states.
Lincoln County, Nevada: Area 51
The empty desert of Nevada isn’t so empty when you consider the fact that it enshrines the giant (yet super secretive) military research and development complex of Area 51. The subject of intense scrutiny, investigation, and conspiracy theories, Area 51 still holds the nation’s attention as one of the weirdest places in the United States, possibly the weirdest.
Pittsfield, New Hampshire: Groucho Marx
There are a lot of strange and, well, pointless Guinness World Records out there, and one of them was set in Pittsfield, New Hampshire. Pittsfield was the first town ever to gather hundreds of people to wear Groucho Marx glasses at the same time. Before this happened in 2001, no one had tried to do it (for, perhaps, obvious reasons), but since then, the record that the 525 Pittsfield residents set has been broken. Read on for the craziest world records set in every state.
Hopewell, New Jersey: Lindbergh baby kidnapping
The whole world seemed to stop and hold its breath in 1932 when the son of famous pilot Charles Lindbergh was kidnapped from the family’s home in Hopewell. After tens of thousands of dollars were demanded in ransom, it was discovered that baby Lindbergh had been killed shortly after he was taken from his home. Bruno Richard Hauptmann was sentenced to death for the crime of first degree murder. Today, the Lindberghs’ property is a treatment facility for juvenile girls. Take a look at the 50 most expensive homes in the country.
Roswell, New Mexico: Aliens
Try as they might, no other town in New Mexico will ever be as famous for a stranger reason than Roswell and its aliens. Of course, there is no proven or 100 percent credible account that UFOs carrying aliens have truly crashed here, but the stories won’t ever die.
Brooklyn, New York: Green-Wood Cemetery
New York has thousands of wonderfully wacky reasons to be famous, but one unexpected reason is Brooklyn’s beautiful, sprawling Green-Wood Cemetery. Green-Wood is the 478-acre resting place of more than 560,000 people, including famous folks like West Side Story composer Leonard Bernstein, baseball pioneer Henry Chadwick, and legendary mobster “Crazy Joe” Gallo.
Rose Hill, North Carolina: Largest frying pan
Most of America’s “World’s Largest” items are non-functioning objects, but not North Carolina’s frying pan. The largest frying pan in the world is fully operational and capable of cooking up 365 chickens at a time. This only happens once a year, though, so make sure you plan your visit accordingly if you’re craving juicy fried chicken. Find out what the 50 states look like when they’re made out of food.
Center, North Dakota: Center of North America
Believe it or not, the geographic center of the North American continent is located at a place called Center, North Dakota. The monument that marks the spot says the geographic center is Rugby, North Dakota, but that is based off of an incorrect conclusion drawn before geographer Peter Rogerson made the correct calculation.
Dublin, Ohio: Cornhenge
Instead of a field filled with ripe, golden corn, Cornhenge in Dublin, Ohio, is a collection of human-sized, white corn statues commemorating a special farmer. Field of Corn was created by professor of sculpture Malcolm Cochran and celebrates the life and work of Sam Frantz, who worked with Ohio State University to create various species of corn. Read on for the 20 most beautiful main streets across the U.S. of A.
Tahlequah, Oklahoma: Mr. Ed the Talking Horse’s grave
Mister Ed, a sitcom about a man and his talking horse, was a beloved TV show for those who grew up in the 1950s and ’60s. Bamboo, the horse that played Mr. Ed, is believed to be buried in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, although some believe the horse buried there was Bamboo’s successor, Pumpkin.
Lakeview, Oregon: Japanese balloon bomb
When Americans think about what finally drew the United States into World War II, we primarily remember the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. However, that was not the only instance of Japan causing casualties on American turf. On May 5, 1945, six civilians were killed in Lakeview by a Japanese war balloon. The balloon appeared non-threatening at first, as it had crashed into the ground with no one aboard, but there was a hidden bomb inside that detonated on contact. Visitors can pay tribute at the memorial to the one woman and five children who were killed that day.
Williamsport, Pennsylvania: First Little League game ever
The idea of a little league for baseball didn’t arrive too much longer after the game itself. In 1938, Carl Stotz began working on his youth baseball project. The first ever official Little League game was played in Williamsport, Pennsylvania in 1939. The Lundy Lumber-sponsored team beat the Lycoming Dairy-sponsored kids with an unmerciful score of 23-8. Today, the Little League World Series is played each August in nearby South Williamsport. Use this quiz to test your knowledge of the state’s nicknames.
Boston Globe/Getty Images
Providence, Rhode Island: The Big Blue Bug
The world-famous Big Blue Bug sits on the side of I-95 in Providence Rhode Island. Constructed of steel and fiberglass, it’s an exact replica of an Eastern Subterranean Termite (only much bigger). The Big Blue Bug has appeared in movies, television shows, books, and comics.
Gaffney, South Carolina: The Peachoid
Apparently, people really like to dress up their water towers, because this peach-shaped water tower, aka “The Peachoid,” is rather famous. It appeared in an episode of the hit Netflix drama House of Cards and is integral the back story of Kevin Spacey’s character, Francis Underwood.
Clark, South Dakota: Mashed potato wrestling
Yes, this is real. Clark, South Dakota, holds a yearly mashed potato wrestling event to commemorate Potato Day. Swap out that stereotypical vision of bikini-clad women rolling around in mud for some burly men tumbling in taters. Get the low-down on the best state fair in every state.
Adams, Tennessee: Bell Witch Cave
The Bell Witch began haunting in the early 19th century. Legend has it that the witch’s true name was Kate Batts, who entered into what she claimed was a poorly-executed land deal with the neighboring Bell family. She seemed to have made good on her promise to haunt the family when their daughter, Betsy Bell, began experiencing intense spiritual aggression and possession. It is said even Andrew Jackson had an encounter with the Bell Witch, whose cave has been infamous in Tennessee for over two centuries. It even made the National Historic Registery in 2008.
Houston, Texas: National Museum of Funeral History
Texas is known for its BBQ, cowboy hats, and its unrivaled patriotism. However, most don’t know that Houston is home to the National Museum of Funeral History. On your visit, you will see coffins and hearses throughout the years and learn about the history of embalming, as well as other funeral traditions from around the world.
Salt Lake City, Utah: First KFC franchise store
One would think that the first KFC would open in Kentucky, but one would be wrong. When Colonel Sanders decided to take his roadside Kentucky cooking seriously, the first stop for his franchise was Salt Lake City. Find out which iconic American landmarks almost weren’t.
Waterbury, Vermont: Ben & Jerry’s flavor graveyard
Everyone knows that Vermont is the go-to state for two famous products: maple syrup and Ben & Jerry’s. If you stop by the ice cream factory for a tour and a taste of the wonderful flavors currently on the menu, be sure to visit the flavor graveyard. Yup, that’s where all of the ice cream flavors of the past have gone to die. (We’re still kinda mad about Wavy Gravy.)
Rosslyn, Virginia: Deep Throat’s parking garage
The Watergate scandal remains one of the most infamous moments in American history. The one who brought the case against President Nixon and his party to light was a mysterious person code-named “Deep Throat” (later revealed to be FBI associate director Mark Felt). Felt infamously and secretly met with Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward in a parking garage to divulge everything he knew about the scandal. Sadly, the garage at the Oakhill Office Building has been slated to be torn down. Read about more of the biggest lies that made history.
Seattle, Washington: Science Fiction Hall of Fame
Seattle is a city known mostly for its 1990s grunge music scene, but it is also home to a museum most people probably don’t know exists. The Museum of Pop Culture contains everything from sound studios to Marvel comics as part of its dedication to developing technology; its Science Fiction & Fantasy Hall of Fame pays tribute to game-changing authors, actors, and other prominent folks, including Douglas Adams, Madeleine L’Engle, C.S. Lewis, and Leonard Nemoy.
Philippi, West Virginia: Mummies of Philippi
P.T. Barnum and his traveling circus conjures up thoughts of elephants and brightly costumed performers. What you might not have known is that P.T. Barnum also lugged around a couple of mummies on tour. Two females who used to reside in an insane asylum in West Virginia were embalmed by Graham Hamrick and taken around the country as a roadside attraction. Now, the mummies rest at The Barbour County Historical Museum.
Middleton, Wisconisn: National Mustard Museum
There are hundreds of weird museums in America that raise eyebrows, and the National Mustard Museum of Wisconsin is no doubt the yellowest. The museum houses nearly 6,000 different mustards from across not just the United States, but the world. Read on for the best free tourist attractions in every state.
Buford, Wyoming: Smallest town in America
The population of Wyoming is a mere 573,720, coming in dead last out of all of the 50 states. So it’s not too much of a surprise, then, that the town of Buford in the souther part of the state is one of the very few towns in America with a population of one person. Here are the 12 other smallest towns in America.