ENCHANTED HIGHWAY: Giant sculptures make road a tourist draw

The Fisherman’s Dream is in need of major repairs, according to the sculptor, Gary Greff.

 

 

 

The “highway” between Gladstone and Regent isn’t nameless, thanks to more than 30 years of effort by Gary Greff.

 

By Brad Mosher

The Herald

 

The “highway” between Gladstone and Regent isn’t nameless, thanks to more than 30 years of effort by Gary Greff.

Decades ago, the Regent resident hoped to bring more traffic to the small North Dakota town famous for being the hometown of former North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan.

He started building giant metal sculptures along the route and dubbed the road the “Enchanted Highway.”

The number of sculptures has grown and he’s fended off problems, including a legal one over one of his more iconic displays just north of Interstate 94, “Geese in Flight.”

After the original property owner sold the property, the new owners locked down the site of Greff’s artwork.

That problem recently ended with a settlement which will soon see the “Geese” reopening.

According to Greff, he has purchased the site where the “Geese in Flight” have roosted and it will stay in place one he makes the payment. He has predicted the location can be open again by May.

The gift shop in Regent will be reopening for the summer May 13 and will stay that way through October.

Needs repair

Now, Greff has a bigger battle.

Wind, rain and harsh winter weather has taken a toll on his creations.

Starting in July, Greff will start repairing several of his structures.

“I will start with the fish (Fisherman’s Dream). That one needs it the most. Then, I have to decide if I can hire somebody,” he said.

The fish have been losing scales to the wind and he has already taken down part of the display because of the damage, he explained.

He is considering putting an advertisement for a part-time welder during the summer to help with the repairs, he said recently.

Greff said he is also working a new sculpture which will stay in Regent right next to the Enchanted Castle hotel and restaurant.

“How do I get myself in two places at one,” he said, smiling.

The 32-mile stretch of two-lane road now has more than a half-dozen giant sculptures that he has created over the years, ranging from the moveable Whirly-Gigs in downtown Regent, north to Gladstone past the homage to Teddy Roosevelt “Teddy Rides Again”, the Tin Family, the Pheasants on the Prairie, the Fisherman’s Dream, giant Grasshoppers and the Deer Crossing just south of Gladstone.

“It will cost at least $30,000 to refurbish all of them… to paint them, to reweld,” he said.

He admits that he’s hoping to get some financial help to repair the sculptures.

But at least the small two-lane highway has a name now. “It is the Enchanted Highway… which is okay with me.

It also has become a tourist draw for the state, according to several tourism groups and agencies. Roadside America describes it as “no better example of ND-can-do spirit”, while on Tripadvisor it is described as a example of small town folk art and a route with great photo ops.

Greff’s creations have even made it into Wikipedia as a collection of the world’s largest scrap metal sculptures.

The official tourism agency for the state even has the route on its website as one of the best attractions in the state.

 

The wide view of the Fisherman’s Dream sculpture shows how it includes boats, underwater scene as well as large fish and a very large catch about to bite on a fly. It is the first of the sculptures slated to be repaired, according to Gary Greff.
Herald photos / Brad Mosher

 

A road sign along North Dakota’s Enchanted Highway announces how close one of the most complicated roadside sculptures is for the visitors to western North Dakota.
The large fish in the Fisherman’s Dream sculpture have been damaged by rust and falling metal “scales” because of the extreme weather in North Dakota.
Herald photo / Brad Mosher

 

 

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