Crazy Roadside Attractions: Northern U.S. edition

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corn palace roadside attractions motorcycles
Corn Palace, Mitchell, MT by m01229
Mountain View

Here at GothRider, we know you can’t wait to head to the northern United States to see some amazing scenic rides and whet your whistle at the best dive bars. But what are you going to do while you’re riding? You need to have some great stories to tell about the crazy things you see.

Today we have a list of the craziest roadside attractions in the northern United States. From the world’s largest ball of twine to a spooky ghost town, here are 6 must-see roadside attractions for motorcycle trips.

Paul Bunyan Roadside Attractions
Paul Bunyan Statue by Bill McChesney

Paul Bunyan Statue and Birthplace, Akeley, Minnesota

You probably remember the tales of Paul Bunyan from your childhood. A New World Hercules, Paul Bunyan’s tall tales tell the story of a giant lumberjack with superhuman strength and epic adventures.

There are many places that claim to be the birthplace of Paul Bunyan, including Akeley, MN. However, Akeley is the home of the Red River Lumber Company. This logging company used Paul Bunyan in their advertising campaign in early 1900s.

The roadside attraction in Minnesota features a kneeling statue of Bunyan. You can take a picture sitting in the palm of his hand. Paul Bunyan’s baby cradle is also here–you can see the supposed resting place of the world’s biggest baby.

World’s Largest Twine Ball, Darwin, Minnesota

In 1950, a man named Francis Johnson began rolling a ball of twine. For the next 29 years, Johnson spent four hours a day rolling twine. The ball weighs nine tons and has a diameter of 12 feet.

Ironically, Johnson’s beloved twine ball may be what killed him. Twenty-nine years of dust is probably what caused his emphysema. Today the twine ball sits in a plexiglass-protected gazebo for photo opportunities.

There are rivals to the largest twine ball. The proud residents of Darwin will tell you this is the largest ball of twine rolled by one man. All those either twine balls–those are cheating!

Museum of Historic Torture Devices, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

Wisconsin Dells is actually a great family-friendly vacation town. But if you happen to be there with just your bike, you’ll want to head over to the Museum of Historic Torture Devices.

The authenticity of some of the torture devices is debatable, at best. However, the creepy, sadistic vibe of the museum is well worth the trip. You’ll see Chinese Death Cages and Skull Crushers.

And don’t forget to take a picture of you being “electrocuted” in the coin-operated electric chair. While the sensation won’t kill you, the flashing lights and smokes make for a great tale. You can head back home telling your friends you survived the electric chair.

Teddy Roosevelt’s Giant Head, Watford City, North Dakota

Forget Mount Rushmore. See a 20 foot bust of Teddy Roosevelt in Watford City. Since we all know, Teddy would have been the baddest of all bikers, this tourist attraction is a must see for motorcycle enthusiasts.

The head of Teddy Roosevelt used to sit at President’s Park in South Dakota. After President’s Park closed in 2010, Roosevelt enthusiast Marty Mulder bought the head. It now sits at his motel, the Roosevelt Inn, as the crown jewel of Roosevelt artifacts.

Just to the north of Watford City is the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The North Unit is one of the least-visited national parks. Stay with the head at Mulder’s motel, then take a ride in the north unit.

Corn Palace, Mitchell, South Dakota

Mitchell, SD is the corn capital of the United States. Everything in town has something to do with corn–even the high school team is “The Kernels.”

The Corn Palace was built in 1892 to showcase the rich soil of the area. Modeled after Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Russia, the concrete building serves as a sports arena and auditorium. In the spring, murals are made with native South Dakota corn and grasses.

The Corn Palace Festival is held in late August. The festival kicks off the annual redecoration of the palace. The Corn Palace also houses the world’s largest bird feeder.

Bannack Ghost Town Roadside Attractions
Bannack Ghost Town by Mr Hicks46

Bannack Ghost Town, Dillon, Montana

Built in the mining boom of the mid-1800s, the abandoned town rests in Bannack State Park. The preservation of the town is incredible. The state park is beautiful, as well, and makes for a great motorcycle ride.

Bannack houses 60 buildings, including an old Masonic Lodge. The visitor’s center provides a detailed walking guide to the town. Make sure to see the gallows, where the town’s own sheriff hanged after only seven months on the job.

The ghost town is not marketed as a major tourist attraction, so it may be nearly empty on your visit. There are plenty of stories of ghostly encounters, so be prepared for a spook.

What are your favorite crazy roadside attractions in the north, GothRiders? Let us know in the comments.