EASTON, Pa. (AP) - There’s a lot of weird stuff around the Lehigh Valley.
There’s a giant gnome carved from a tree, for instance. And a big chair (like, really big) on top of a mountain. And not one, but two places to see huge metal dinosaurs. We recently set out to find these and more, logging more than 200 driving miles criss-crossing the Valley and its surrounding areas over a day and a half.
The following list was devised by combining the local knowledge of the lehighvalleylive.com staff with listings on websites like Roadside America and Atlas Obscura, then visiting as many as possible in person.
Most of these sights are within view of the road, though some may involve some walking. Which means we are obligated to give .
Trespassing is bad - don’t do it. At least a few of these roadside attractions are on private property, so be mindful and don’t intrude. Also be aware of any posted rules, and don’t vandalize stuff.
Now that that’s out of the way, here are 15 of the Lehigh Valley’s weirdest roadside oddities, listed in the order we visited.
1. TOMB OF THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER
Location: 1st Avenue, Bethlehem
This memorial marks the final resting place of some 500 or more Revolutionary War soldiers who died at the makeshift hospital on Bethlehem’s Main Street. Records with the casualties’ identities either were not kept or lost. Many were buried in trenches under what has since become a neighborhood, and sometimes homeowners find their remains.
2. STEEL DINOSAURS
Location: 50 Industrial Drive, Alpha
Take a turn into an industrial park and you will soon find yourself face-to-face with an angry, green triceratops staring at you through a fence outside GJ Oliver, a steel fabrication company. Not far away, you also can see a humongous white T. rex, a brontosaurus and a caveman (a little anachronistic, but who cares).
All are behind fences but can be seen from the road and parking lots.
According to the LostInJersey blog, the brutes were built at the request of the owner because his grandkids loved dinosaurs.
They do move in herds!
3. HEXENKOPF ROCK
Location: Hexenkopf Road, Williams Township
Also known as Hexenkopf Hill, the German name translates to “witch’s head” and refers to an outcropping of rocks on South Mountain that fits the description.
Stories abound of witchcraft, ancient rituals, evils spirits and cursed farms. “This area has been known for witchcraft for over two centuries,” local historian Len Buscemi told lehighvalleylive.com in 2016. “Hexenkopf Rock gained a reputation as a repository for evil, a residence of demons and witches. The superstitions had their roots in folk medical practice.”
Good luck finding an access point, though. There are no markings. The road is all forest on one side, homes and farms on the other and has no shoulder.
4. ROSICRUCIAN PYRAMIDS
Location: 5801 Clymer Road, Quakertown
A series of stone pyramids can be found in the well-manicured garden of a Rosicrucian retreat, a group similar to the Masons that delves in spirituality and mysticism. According to Roadside America, a glimpse into the biggest of the pyramids - probably 20 to 30 feet tall - will reveal an All-Seeing Eye, like the one on a dollar bill.
It’s a bit of a drive to find these. There didn’t appear to be any signs or people saying to keep out, but this is still private property in a remote, kind-of-creepy area so we didn’t stick around. You can glimpse the pyramids from the road anyway.
5. LEHIGH MILLENNIUM FOLK ARCH
Location: Lehigh University campus, in Bethlehem
This park, also known as the Stolfo Sculpture Garden, is full of strange works, which started in a 1999 class to explore spirituality and mysticism, according to Atlas Obscura.
We’ll admit we had trouble finding the entrance, but colleagues who have been there say it’s pretty cool. You can also see an example of this kind of artwork at the bus stop on Third Street by the Banana Factory.
6. THE TALL GNOME
Location: 10408 Old U.S. 22, Weisenberg Township
On the edge of Lehigh County, a tall wooden gnome stands in a parking lot, holding an owl. On the other side of the street, smaller gnomes peak from another carving.
Both were carved out of trees by the guys who run the garage and old-timey car museum there, said Bernie Thompson, a supervisor at both Bob’s Auto Orphanage and the Old Spokes Auto Museum, both worth visiting in their own right. Passers-by will frequently stop for pictures of and with the gnomes, but they may be running out of time - after attacks by carpenter ants, the wood is beginning to rot from the inside.
“It’s got a few years left,” Thompson said.
7. SILO LIGHTHOUSE
Location: 7399 Kernsville Road, Orefield
Cruise through the rolling hills and fields of Orefield and you may suddenly come upon this landlocked lighthouse. It was said to be an old grain silo that was turned into a lighthouse, because, well, why not?
As Roadside America notes, this is private property - but you can’t miss it as you drive by.
8. FIREMAN’S DRINKING FOUNTAIN
Location: Main Street, Slatington
This notable, colorful statue is not exactly hidden - it stands at a sharp bend in Slatington’s Main Street - but can be surprisingly easy to miss if you’re not looking for it.
Built in 1910 as a water source for both people and horses, this gallant mustachioed man holding a nightgown-clad child in one arm and a red lantern in the other hand is a monument for firefighters everywhere. It was restored in the 1980s after a car accident. And yes, the drinking fountain still works.
9. STINSON THE DINOSAUR
Location: 2525 Interchange Road, Lehighton
Just outside the Lehigh Valley, you can find this nine-foot-tall, bright red skeletal T. rex lurking around a bend on Route 209, not far from the Northeast Extension.
Its name, Stinson, is written on a tag chained around its neck. The mailbox in front of it is labeled for Stinson the Dinosaur and indicates its goal is to raise awareness for strokes. It also lists Stinson’s website, which unfortunately appears to have gone extinct.
10. COLUMCILLE MEGALITH PARK
Location: 2155 Fox Gap Road, Upper Mount Bethel Township
A place of quiet reflection nestled on the side of Blue Mountain, Columcille Megalith Park has stone circles, towers and trails - it looks like the ancient Jedi temples of Ahch-To with picnic tables and a koi pond.
The park is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2018, and donations are suggested to help its non-profit caretakers. The park is open daily from dawn to dusk and has a number of special events, sometimes including dawn vigils to mark the changing seasons. But if you go, leave the drones at home. This is a place of peace and quiet, after all.
11. THE BIG CHAIR
Location: Route 191 (Valley View Drive), in Upper Mount Bethel Township
Coming down Blue Mountain on Route 191, the trees suddenly open and you find a splendid vista. Even more striking, however, is the 20-foot-tall Adirondack chair.
Technically, the chair is on private property owned by the Klaver family. “It’s nice that people like it,” Kathy Klaver told lehighvalleylive.com in 2017. “We never chase anyone off the property.”
The chair has had many visitors over the years, evidenced by the names and notes of never-ending love carved, written or spray-painted on it. The view below it is one of the best in the Valley, looking toward the Delaware River and Warren County beyond it. It’s also a great spot for selfies. The only challenge is climbing onto the chair itself.
12. JAYNE MANSFIELD’S GRAVE
Location: Fairview Cemetery, Plainfield Township.
Jayne Mansfield was an actress and sex symbol in the ‘50s and ‘60s, born in 1933 in Bryn Mawr and lived for a time in Phillipsburg. She was killed in a car crash in 1967 and was buried in Fairview Cemetery.
Her headstone stands out - tall, heart-shaped and gleaming white. “We live to love you more each day,” the inscription reads. It seems that is true: Someone has left fresh pink roses.
13. SHADES OF DEATH ROAD
Location: Great Meadows, N.J.
A gimme for any list of weird things in our area. How this old, 7-mile-long road in northeastern Warren County got its name is anyone’s guess. Some say it was from a malaria outbreak that devastated the area in the 1850s, a violent attack on the local Lenni Lenape by Iroquois tribes, or for highwaymen who robbed travelers on the road.
It winds for miles through neighborhoods and swamps. Residents are used to seeing gawkers, especially in the fall. But anyone looking for a street sign as a souvenir better look elsewhere - the few street markers are big, vertical posts, installed in response to past, frequent thefts.
14. HIPPO ROCK
Location: The Musconetcong River, off Route 57 in Mansfield Township.
What would be simply a rock in a river gained some notoriety decades ago when some artistic angler decided it looked like a hippopotamus and painted a face on it. The face faded over the years, but was repainted in 2015. It’s unknown who did it, though Paul Boccolini, who lives across from hippo rock, previously swore the original painter once knocked on his door wearing a frogman-style wetsuit.
These days, the hippo is looking a little worse for wear, its paint peeling away amid high waters fueled by recent rain. To see it in its heyday, you may want to check out the picture sitting on the counter at Willy’s Wieners, a hot dog shack nearby.
15. SPACE CAPSULE
Location: Route 611 in Martins Creek
Stop at the gas station at De Ber’s Corner and there it is - a replica space capsule propped up by metal supports sitting at the edge of the woods. It’s stamped with an Air Force logo and the hatch is open, where an astronaut figure used to sit.
It may not be spaceworthy, but it’s definitely something. And once you find it, it’s impossible to miss again.
16. RINGING ROCKS
Location: Lonely Cottage Road, Upper Black Eddy
Not exactly “roadside” - you have to park, then hike into the woods - but definitely weird. The boulder field at Ringing Rocks Park opens up out of the forest, where big rocks are pocked from visitors’ hammer strikes, which is the key to unlocking their musical nature, which is a result of their composition and weathering.
It’s kind of cool, and kind of creepy when you’re there alone on an overcast day. But on a sunny weekend? Then it’s more like Disney World, if Disney World was a bunch of families hitting rocks with a hammer.
What did we miss?
There are surely many more weird roadside sights in and around the Lehigh Valley. Tell us your favorites in the comments.
Information from: The (Easton, Pa.) Express-Times, http://www.lehighvalleylive.com
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