Saturday, September 3, 2011

Ten Offbeat and Unexpectedly Cool Attractions on US Route 6

Drive 3,652 miles across the United States and you’re bound to find a few oddball attractions.  As I made my way from the tip of Cape Cod, MA to the southern shores of California, I discovered a country full of singular, unsung, oft-times unknown sites.  My snippets are meant to whet your appetite to visit. Over time, I’ll highlight my full collection, but for now, I’ll start with these 10;

1     1.   “When the Chips are Down, The Buffalo Is Empty,” proclaims a bumper sticker for sale at the Creamery Brook Bison Farm in Brooklyn, CT, owned by Debbi and Austin Tanner.  With dozens of buffalo on the range in rural upstate Connecticut, this seemingly out-of-place farm brings a bit of the Wild West to genteel New England. Visitors are welcome to check out the livestock and purchase fresh meat.    

White's Tavern, Private Property
Andover, CT
        2.   Whites Tavern in Andover, CT is now in private hands, but in the 1770’s, when America was fighting for its freedom, it was the TGI Friday’s of its day.  After moving in owners Lorraine and Dale Busque found and had translated French General Rauchambeau’s Revolutionary War-Era journals subsequently discovering that George Washington’s ally feasted, drank and stayed overnight in White’s Tavern both on his way to and then back from meeting Washington’s troops along the Hudson River.

Harness Racing in Goshen, NY

  3.    Harness Racing Hall of Fame, Goshen, NY; who knew?  What at first appears to be a strange esoteric sport is, upon further inspection quite engaging.  And so is this museum, which has one of the best “virtual rides” I’ve ever experienced.  What began as a pissing contest (OK – a RACE) between wagon-driving farmers grew into a fast-paced, internationally regulated horseracing competition.  There’s a track out back and if you’re lucky you can watch horse and buggy-riders going through their paces.  

Zippo Case Museum
Bradford, PA

4.   Zippo Case Museum, Bradford, PA; OK so it’s not officially on Route 6, but this quirky homage to the “windproof lighter” is worth the 20-mile detour.  Trust me.  From the American Flag made out of hundreds of lighters to the professionally filmed Zippo story, this museum/gift shop should be on many bucket lists.


Children's Chicken Coop Church
Troy, PA
5   5.   Children’s Chicken Coop Church, Bradford County Heritage Museum, Troy, PA; This tiny church and its teenage preacher were featured in a 1939 issue of Life Magazine. Started by a 13 year old who felt that local ministers were too "high falutin'" and spoke down to kids, he cleaned out a chicken coop and opened his own place of worship.  The Heritage Museum itself is jam packed with historic stuff and has much to recommend it, but this well-preserved piece of our country’s religious past is sincerely cool and miniscule.

PennDOT Mural/Fence
Meadville, PA
(Photo From Wondermachine)

       6.  PennDOT Fence, Meadville, PA; New England has stone walls, Meadville has old Pennsylvania Department of Transportation route, street and highway signs.  A mosaic-like “fence,” crafted out of these colorful sheets of steel, rings the PennDot Headquarters property.  Right on busy Route 6 and tough to stop, you can appreciate the artfulness while driving past.  

         7.   Linesville Spillway, Linesville,  PA; “Where Ducks Walk on the Fishes Backs.” Gross.  Weird. Unsettling. But very, very popular.  

Merry Go Round Museum
Sandusky, OH
         8.   Merry Go Round Museum, Sandusky, OH; Watch wood carvers in action and learn what makes carousels so captivating - and then ride one!!   A perennial favorite of children (and your inner-child), the carousel has an interesting place in American History and this Post-Office-Turned-Museum tells the story well.  Sandusky is best known as home to the humungous Cedar Point Amusement Park, but when you get tired of the sticky crowds, see how it all began...

9      9.   Windmill Museum, Kendallville, IN; Before widespread use of electricity, windmills generated enough power to pump water, grind meal and otherwise make light work of a farmer’s labors.  Farmers and ranchers sought the best-functioning heavy-duty windmills and one well-respected manufacturer was located in Kendallville.   The Windmill Museum has collected a variety of these softly creaking utilitarian appliances in one place and the effect is one of Zen serenity – much like strolling by a burbling brook.

Annie Oakley Perfumery owner
Renee Gabet
Ligonier, IN
      10.  Annie Oakley Perfumery, Ligonier, IN; The fact that there’s a bone-fide perfumery in Indiana (rather than NYC or Paris), let alone in LIGONIER, Indiana (as opposed to say, a larger metropolitan area like Indianapolis or even Bloomington) is staggering enough. But the further fact that said perfumery is incongruously named after a women known more for her sharpshootin’ rootin’ tootin’ than a refined, sweet-smelling lifestyle places Annie Oakley Perfumery in the category of “Gotta See This Place and Smell the Goods!”  And those goods certainly do smell great.  My custom made "Malerie No. 6" is ideal for me. To top it off, owners Renee Gabet and her husband, Charles have carved out a little slice of Provence in the Midwest and imbued it with fragrant panache.  Open for tours. 

1 comment:

  1. I love reading your blog posts. Hoping this finds you in good spirits and enjoying our beautiful fall weather. I am excited to tell you we just bought a native piece of property on US 5, only a skip away from US 6. We are developing it for Cultural Tourism and will begin to bloom in spring. A dear friend, an award wining architect and naturalist is helping us. Artists will want to come from afar to paint and photograph this beauty of nature. The first phase begins tomorrow. Until then, Renee


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