When some people think of Main Street, visions of Norman Rockwell dance in their heads. Well, Mr. Rockwell and his art are doing the dance of the sugar plum fairies through the lens of nostalgia. The fact is that Main Street can be home to some pretty weird/wonderful/interesting/hopelessly messed up things. The main streets of Texas offer everything from classic cars to nearly undead horned toads.
10. Old Rip, Miracle Horned Toad – Eastland
In 1897, the good people of Eastland, Texas put a live horned toad in the cornerstone of their new courthouse and then sealed it up for all eternity (this is what people did before selfies???) PETA could not be reached for comment.
31 years later, the next generation of Eastland, Texas demolished the building to make room for another new courthouse. When they cracked open the cornerstone they found a flat, dirty, but very much alive horned toad.
The toad, being the only known survivor of a Texas death sentence, became an instant celebrity. Warner Brothers based the origin of Michigan J. Frog off of him, and the world’s most unkillable reptile even met President Coolidge. He died 11 months later (the toad not the President). Today he is enshrined at the Eastland County Courthouse.
9. Mt. Blanco Fossil Museum — Crosbyton
Artist and archeologist Joe Taylor runs a museum whose creationist twist would make Bill Nye the Science Guy’s head explode. Wherever you fall on the creation vs. evolution vs. alien transplant vs. whatever Tom Cruise believes debate, this is an interesting place. He has tons of fossils. Many of which you will not see anywhere else.
8. Postage Stamp Mural — Eastland
One woman, 11,217 stamps, 7 years, and the sort of superhuman focus that only Ritalin can provide.
7. Yellow Bicycle Man — Calvert
This Calvert, Texas icon has been biking since at least 2007 and hasn’t moved an inch…and we still like him better than Lance Armstrong.
6. Texas Cotton Gin Museum —Burton
Believe it or not, there was a time when cotton was more important than oil, tobacco, selfies, and Scarlett Johansson (the latter two having not been invented yet). In Burton, Texas there is a whole museum dedicated to this natural and renewable resource.
5. Flying A Car Museum — Albany
The Flying A Car Museum is a vintage car establishment rich in automotive history and classic Americana. It is a gift from the Flying A Car club to the good people of Albany, Texas and the world. It’s basically a mid-life crisis Mecca that’s been decorated with stuff you would find on the walls of a TGI Friday’s. If the thought of a 57 Chevy affects you like eating raw oysters and there is a 1950’s Coke machine in your garage, this is the place for you.
4. Killer Elephant Skull, Willoughby McCabe Gun Shop — Albany
According to legend, a rampaging elephant went all “Ghost and the Darkness” on a number of unsuspecting people. His reign of terror earned him an ending Bonnie and Clyde could empathize with. Now his skull and remaining leg are displayed at this gunsmith shop in Albany, Texas.
3. JFK Tribute — Fort Worth
John F. Kennedy was a President who completely lacked the aloof and entitled affectation that those who followed him seemed to cultivate. Unfortunately his desire to connect with the people probably contributed to his death (dang convertibles). On this spot in Fort Worth, the most powerful man in the world delivered an impromptu speech to thousands of his fellow Americans. The shrine commemorates this moment in time and celebrates the man who made it happen.
2. Sid Richardson Museum — Fort Worth
Sid Richardson was a Texas Native who made his fortune in oil and ranching. He was a living stereotype of Texas culture and the values of the Old West. This museum is dedicated to art depicting the romantic period of the west that Sid loved so much.
1. Giant Texas Longhorn Skull — Albany
This giant longhorn skull is mounted next to a vintage, 1935, gas station. Is it an homage to fossil fuels? Is it a silent rebuttal to those Chick-fil-A commercials that demand we eat more chicken? Or is it the silent, desperate cry for help of someone who had too much time, and too much scrap metal on their hands? The world may never know, but you can see this public art installation anytime when visiting the city of Albany, Texas.