The Lone Star State is full of wonder. For example, you might wonder why there is a bunch of Cadillacs standing on end, buried half way in the red dirt of the Texas panhandle. You might wonder why the town of Britten, Texas chose to allow their water tower to look as though it’s perpetually on the verge of toppling over. If you’ve ever found yourself wondering about some of the weirdest attractions in Texas, look no further. We’ve got answers for you.
10. Alien Gravesite – Aurora
Did you know that in 1897 a UFO crashed in Aurora, Texas? At least, that is according to a story that ran in the Dallas Morning News at the time. Legend has it that the UFO (then referred to as a “mystery airship”) crashed into a windmill and landed in the flower garden of Judge J.S. Proctor. Apparently, the locals removed the alien pilot and gave him a Christian burial in their local cemetery.
9. Chinati Foundation – Marfa
You can’t have a list of weird Texas places without adding the tiny West Texas town of Marfa to the list. Marfa is well known for its art installations and artistic community. If you haven’t yet seen it yourself, you’ve got to add the Chinati Foundation to your bucket list. This enormous museum, built on an old military base, houses some very unique and interesting sculptures and works of art that have to be seen to be believed.
8. Dinosaur Valley State Park – Glen Rose
Located in Glen Rose, Texas you’ll find the life-sized sculptures of dinosaurs in Dinosaur Valley State Park. The park is located on the bed of the Paluxy River, the shores of which still have evidence of prehistoric creatures. The area marks the edge of what was once a Precambrian ocean that covered most of what is now the state of Texas.
7. The Leaning Tower of Texas – Groom
It’s impossible not to notice the precarious lean of the water tower in Groom, Texas. People usually wonder what happened to it to make it lean. However, the tilt of the tower was not an accident, but completely intentional. The Tower was installed by Ralph Britten, who used it as a gimmick to get motorists on the old stretch of Route 66 to stop at his truck stop. Boy, did it work. People would rush into the store to alert the locals that they were about to lose their water tower.
6. Sparky Park – Austin
Leave it to Austinites to turn an old, crumbling electrical substation into a whimsical work of art. “Sparky Park” came about in 2008 when the city of Austin commissioned artist Berthold Haas to create a wall around the substation. The wall is a form of artwork known as “assemblage,” a kind of 3-D collage. It’s comprised of stones, broken dishes, mirror balls, stucco, shells and various other items.
5. The World’s Smallest Skyscraper – Wichita Falls
You could be forgiven if you missed this teeny-tiny “skyscraper” on your last visit to Wichita Falls. The Newby-McMahon building was built in 1919 by a rather unscrupulous man by the name of J.D. McMahon. He proposed to build the new office for the Newby office for $200,000 (or about three million dollars today). He listed the height of the building at 480 inches rather than feet on the blueprints. Because it went unnoticed by the officials who signed off on construction, a court upheld that the arrangement to build the building did not constitute fraud. The tower on the building is very small, barely large enough to house the stairwell inside it.
4. Stonehenge – Odessa and Ingram
Texas might not be home to many famous ancient artifacts, but that didn’t stop a couple of Texas cities from building tributes to Stonehenge. The stone circle is believed to be over 5,000 years old, but the Texas versions are much newer. There is one in Odessa and one in Ingram. Both are smaller than the original, while the one in Ingram is also surrounded by replicas of the Easter Island heads.
3. The Cadillac Ranch – Amarillo
Located just outside of Amarillo, you’ll find 10 old Cadillacs buried halfway up in the Texas dirt, and absolutely covered in graffiti. The “ranch” was commissioned in 1974 by Stanley Marsh III as a monument to the golden age of the American automobile. Located nearby is the less famous is the VW Slug Bug Ranch, which is pretty much identical to the Cadillac Ranch, but on a more affordable scale.
2. Barney Smith’s Toilet Seat Art Museum – San Antonio
In the Alamo Heights section of San Antonio, a former plumber has made artwork of his life’s work. Barney Smith has spent many years collecting and decorating old toilet seats and mounting them on the walls of his garage. The collection has continued to grow over the past fifty years, and as of May 2016 he had over 1,200 seats on display.
1. Salt Palace – Grand Saline
More of a cabin than a “palace,” The Salt Palace in Grand Saline is built entirely of, you guessed it, salt. The building houses a museum where visitors can stop and buy souvenirs like t-shirts that read “I licked the Salt Palace!” It might seem like an odd tribute to one of the most ubiquitous spices, except when you consider that Grand Saline is built over a 250 million year old salt deposit that is mined by the Morton Salt Company.