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Roadside Oddities & Unusual Attractions

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Quirky New Mexico

 

Fridgehenge - Consumerism Stonehenge

How Hot Springs, NM, Became Truth or Consequences

New Mexico's Big Bird

New Mexico Fun Facts & Trivia

The Roswell Incident and the International UFO Museum & Research Center

Smokey Bear Historical Park, Museum & Grave in Capitan

Snakes Alive in Albuquerque

Tiny Town - Art That Dies to Live

 

 

Do you know of a quirky attraction that we should list on our Roadside Adventures, please send us an email.

 

 

 

 

 

Lucien B. Maxwell Statue in Cimarron, New Mexico

The only monument to Lucien B Maxwell, the owner of the largest land grant in the United States is a primitive concrete folk-art sculpture in Cimarron, New Mexico.  However,  the current curator of the Aztec Mill, Buddy Morse, tells a story that the statue was actually built for Henry Springer, but when the artist presented it, Henry didn't like it and stated that statues were to be built for people who were dead, so between the two of them, it was decided that the statue would be of Maxwell instead.  Photo June, 2006, Kathy Weiser. 

 

 

 

Tiny Town New Mexico SkullTiny Town - Art That Dies to Live

 

(Update: We've been informed by a reader that Tiny Town no longer exists). Just north of the ghost town turned artist colony of Madrid, sits an unusual array of bones, discarded toys, bottles, old cars, and other cast-off material that a local artist has created on an acre of the Lodestar Ranch.

 

As you enter this quirky exhibit, a sign proudly displays "If it isn’t broke, dead, or rusted, well I just can’t use it." As the sign implies, a short sojourn through this roadside display will turn up all manner of strange displays in this ever-evolving miniature ghost town.

 

Created by Tammy Jean Lange, known familiarly in the area as Tatt2 Tammy, for her years as a tattoo artist, her specialty is creating art from "road kill."

 

Atop an old trailer, painted to look like it’s made of brick, sits a chopper motorcycle made of bones and old bicycle parts.  Hanging on metal poles and wooden stumps, more collections of bones, antlers, and skulls can be found by the curious traveler.

 

Tiny Town, New MexicoLange actively searches for road kill as a source of bones, so much so that she encourages area locals to alert of new finds, which she uses for her most "special” art. When alerted to a new "find,” she is happy to retrieve the animal carcass which she then buries so it can decompose, later digging it up to clean and bleach the bones.

 

At least nearby Madrid doesn’t suffer from the plight of many small towns where junk is piled haphazardly next to homes and in yards – these folks have a ready and accepting artist who will happily accept take their  cast off treasures.

Earlier reports by travel writers describe this acre as having its own saloon, church, courthouse and jail; rivers made of broken glass, and roads made of tarpaper, complete with yellow lines.  However, when Legends of America visited, there was little sign of the acre of haphazard material resembling a town.  Perhaps this is because several years ago an art scout came upon Lange’s town and arranged to have much of it boxed and shipped to the Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore.

Evidently, this was the jumping board for success, as the artist now sells many of her creations in local shops. We were told by a reader in 2015 that Tiny Town went away sometime after our visit in 2006.

 

 

New Mexico's Big Bird

 

Boasting 350 days of sunshine per year and a history that dates back some 4,000 years, Las Cruces, New Mexico has become a popular southwestern destination, offering a number of events and attractions.

 

That being said, one of its most distinctive attractions is a giant roadrunner, crafted entirely of trash, that beckons a warm welcome to visitors at a rest stop on I-10 about ten miles west of Las Cruces.  This whimsical statue, made entirely from junk retrieved from the city dump, was built in 1992 by artist Olin S. Calk.

 

Standing atop a hill overlooking I-10, the roadrunner, representing New Mexico's state bird, can’t be missed as she stares endlessly across the fertile Mesilla Valley at the majestic Organ Mountains across the way.  This giant bird, approximately 20 feet tall and 42 feet long, was actually built at the city dump, until it closed several years ago.  The city fathers, wondering what to do with the larger than life sculpture, made an excellent decision when they decided to move it to the roadside stop in 2000.

 

This large bird, touted as the world’s largest roadrunner, has a belly created with old shoes, with other parts of its body sporting everything from office fans, to computer parts, to children’s toys.

 

Giant Roadrunner near Las Cruces, New Mexico

This 42 foot long Roadrunner looks out upon the Mesilla

Valley near Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Photo by Bill McIntosh, courtesy city-data.com

 

The rest stop and big bird are on the south side of Interstate 10, about ten miles west of Las Cruces between mile markers 134-135.

 

Las Cruces is located in the Mesilla Valley in south-central New Mexico and is the second largest city in the state (yes, larger than Santa Fe).

 

Beep Beep!

Fridgehenge in Santa Fe, New MexicoFridgehenge - It seems as if replicas "Stonehenges" are dotted throughout America, including this unique one, also referred to as "Stonefridge," located just outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico.  This unique piece of art, created by Adam Jonas Horowitz, sits atop the former site of the municipal landfill overlooking Santa Fe. Comprised of some 200 discarded and donated refrigerators, it stands 2.5 refrigerators high in most places and 3.5 in others.  This "cool" treat sitting among the desert cactuses and lizards was  assembled with human-power only - no mechanical cranes or heavy lifting equipment here!  Working with several volunteers, Horowitz and his team used teepee poles, ropes, and  pulleys to heft the large appliances one atop the other.

Though surrounded by a chain-link fence, these many colored Kenmores and Whirlpools already show the signs of passing visitors as they add their "art" and graffiti to this monument to man's vapid consumer appetite.

Rather than being aligned with the sun and the stars, Stonefridge is aligned with its own atomic power source - Los Alamos National Laboratories to the northwest.

These sprayed and decorated metal hulks are all lined up in a 100-foot diameter circle where they seemingly worship several inner towers.  Horowitz has been quoted as calling it "a post-modern, post-apocalyptic temple to waste and consumerism."

Snakes Alive in Albuquerque - These days there is pretty much a museum for everything including this Rattlesnake Museum in Albuquerque's Old Town.  Tucked away among the galleries and boutiques, this museum might be small, but it’s certainly big enough to be called home to over a hundred rattlesnakes of more than 30 different species.

Included in this diverse collection are exhibits of snake science, snake culture, snake art, and snake mythology right along side the creepy crawly critters themselves.  And if that isn’t enough, the snake gift shop offers all manner of rattlesnake gear, t-shirts, fangs, skin, books, and more.

Though this particular traveler finds it extremely high on the creepy scale, director Bob Myers says that there are actually very few people that balk at the entrance or refuse to go within striking distance of the snakes-behind-glass. 

Myers conceived of the idea with two objectives – to help people overcome their fear of rattlesnakes and to educate them on the influence these snake have on our lives.

The snakes represented come from all parts of North and South America, each housed in a vivarium with natural "furnishings” native to its environment.

As visitors move down the corridor, peering at the snakes, many of the creatures greet their arrival with a steady buzz of rattles at work, coming from such species as the canebrake, northern blacktailed, desert sidewinder, tiger rattlesnake, and many, many more more. These crawly critters also come in a variety of colors, from green, to pale-yellow, to black, gray, and albino.

When you’ve had your fill of the "real” thing, you can also check out a collection of snake beer, snake flags, snake photos, snake games, snake jewelry, snake kits, snake pottery, …….  It’s endless, but not snakeless!

Myers, a former biology teacher, says he has enough snake stuff to fill a building ten times the current size of the museum and hopes to expand one day.

Contact Information:

 

American International Rattlesnake Museum

202 San Felipe NW
Suite A
Albuquerque, New Mexico   87104-1426

505-242-6569

 

 

© Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated March, 2017.

 

 

From the Legends' General Store

 

Discoveries...America, Colorado DVDVideo Store - Legends of America and the Legends' General Store has collected a number of DVD's so that you can check out your destinations before you travel.  Sixty minute videos will provide you with historic treasures, cultural icons, natural wonders and portraits of Americans from coast to coast revealing the heart & spirit of the U.S. 

 

Discoveries...America, Arizona DVD    Discoveries...America, Nevada DVD  Discoveries...America, South Dakota  Discoveries...America, Texas DVD  Discoveries...America, Florida DVD

 

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