Enchanted Highway, North Dakota

Honesty Pays Off…These Lines Prove It!

 

With all the exciting and interesting attractions to see all over the United States, one might be under the impression that North Dakota simply has nothing to offer. Heck, even its southern sister is home to the world famous Mount Rushmore. So, the question of “is there anything interesting at all to be seen in ND?” might seem as perfectly reasonable. After all, if you were to make a decision between Florida, California and, say, Washington – North Dakota would probably not be on your radar even if it were the last state on the planet. This reflects the exact mindset that the majority of people used to have…until a peculiar event that took place in 1989. Since then, the town of Regent, North Dakota has been as obvious on the map as several gigantic sculptures are on a certain ND road called the Enchanted Highway.

Look deep inside yourself and ask this question: “Do I like fairytales?” If the answer happens to be “yes”, then by all means – keep reading. If, on the other hand, it happens to be “no”, then tough luck – you are stuck with reading about this one. Because that is precisely what the story of the Enchanted Highway is – a modern day fairytale (minus a big bad wolf and a wicked witch). In fact, if one set out to identify a villain, the only candidate would be – oblivion. Our story starts with Mr. Gary Greff, who (interestingly enough) happens to be a retired school teacher. It is this man’s mind, creativity and above all, persistence that the Enchanted Highway has to thank for coming to life. If it was not for Mr. Greff, the Enchanted Highway would have never been born and North Dakota would have remained poorer by an unusual and, measured by many criteria, truly great roadside attraction.

Small In Size, But Great In Ideas

 

The town of Regent, North Dakota is located over 25 miles from the nearest (read: any) major highway. It is also a good hour and a half drive to reach it from Dickinson (heading south). The Enchanted Highway was born in 1990 on the Regency-Gladstone Road. The idea was to build massive sculptures made of metal and no less than ten of them all along the road. The original plan also encompassed picnic areas that were supposed to be built complete with children’s playgrounds. The sculptures represent places for tourists to unwind as well as pleasant dining areas, after which tourists are offered several other interesting things to see and do in the town of Regent itself. Today, seven out of the originally planned ten sculptures have been completed and the interesting creations are the first thing in the view of traffic coming off the interstate.

Being one of the most distinctive creations in North Dakota and the United States as well, the Enchanted Highway is a story that everyone is keen on listening 100 times over. The plan to revive the town of Regent has transformed into something timeless and incredible thanks to its creator, Mr. Greff. The Enchanted Highway is actually a stretch of county highway over 30 miles long. One of the most prominent sculptures (though all of them are special and eye-catching) is the sculpture of Teddy Roosevelt riding a kicking horse. Another interesting sculpture located on the Enchanted Highway’s half mile mark from Regent is the Tin Family. This particular work of art (and it really is precisely that) features a boy grasping a lollipop and wearing a propeller hat.

7 Out Of 10…Not Bad For 25 Years Of Sheer Will Power

 

The pheasants located nine miles from Regent are somewhat of a centerpiece of the entire “exhibition,” in a sense. Consisting of a rooster 60 feet tall and a hen 50 feet tall, this sculpture completed in 1998 also features baby chicks, each of which is 12 feet tall. The largest grasshopper in the world is also one of the sculptures and it was finished by Greff in 1999. The Deer Crossing was finished and installed on the Enchanted Highway only three years after the grasshopper, in 2002, and it features an enormous deer made from metal, depicted in a jump through the air. Ten metallic geese sailing by the sun is the picture behind another sculpture called Geese in Flight. The town of Regent was once on its way to oblivion, but thanks to Gary Greff, that is no longer the case. Finding a sense of accomplishment and pride in his work only increases the joy in creating a new and useful way to pass the time.

Now, you can imagine how the process of contemplating, finding the necessary materials, combining them and creating a finished sculpture can sometimes be strenuous and complicated. However, one of the most complicated sculptures along the Enchanted Highway proved to be the Fisherman’s Dream. This was number 7 on the list and it was finished in 2007. It depicts fish made from metal jumping over 70 feet. As if this wasn’t enough, the design dictated that they would jump through a metallic pond that needed to be very intricately welded. One of the biggest problems for Mr. Greff was brush fires. These occur mostly during scorching summer months, which can be particularly unpleasant in North Dakota. Welding during these periods proved to be too dangerous for Mr. Greff, forcing him to readjust his plans for working on the sculptures. Instead, Mr. Greff paints and builds during the summer months with the help of several volunteers.

The Enchanted Highway – A Dream And A Little Help And Voila!

While on your way to visit this world-renown project, there is a chance that you will meet Gary Greff in person. This is because he personally tends to the maintenance of the sculptures, as well as the surrounding area. He will gladly answer any questions you might have (and we use the term “any” very loosely here). Using only donations as a source of financing his project, Greff has already started the eighth sculpture on the Enchanted Highway. Once completed, it will represent a big spider web with several metallic spiders crawling on it. Other plans are also brewing in Mr. Greff’s mind, such as building a dining facility, an amphitheater as well as a water park – all along the Enchanted Highway. Whether a particular sculpture has tickled your imagination or the entire project has you intrigued, be sure to check out this one of a kind attraction in the world.

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