I love the odd, the weird, the eccentric. That’s why I continued my quest to learn about the Genesee-Orleans-Wyoming region this week by seeking out the unique. And I found some thanks to a little help from a wonderful travel website.
RoadsideAmerica.com is an excellent tool for people like me who search for attractions that are slightly left of center. It maps oddities throughout the country like the World’s Largest Cigar Store Indian in Oak Lawn, Illinois, and Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas.
The top rated attractions in New York State are the Secret Caverns in Cobleskill, the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in Amsterdam, and the Magic Forest in Lake George.
The website lists seven tour stops in the three-county region — eight if you add Livingston County. Some of them are well-known attractions like the Jell-O Museum in Le Roy and Rolling Hills Asylum in East Bethany. The others are truly odd. They are the Shoe Trees in Lyndonville, the Big Apple and the “only tunnel under the Erie Canal” in Medina, the Giant Knight of Armor in Batavia, the Metal Dragon in East Bethany.
Naturally, I set out to see them. Here’s my take on each one:
• Shoe Trees, Lake Shore and Foss roads, Lyndonville — I devoted an entire column to this attraction last year, so I won’t say more than the four trees are an art piece containing an interesting story behind each shoe that hangs from a branch or is nailed to a trunk.
• Big Apple, Lions Park, Glenwood Ave., Medina — New York City might be The Big Apple, but Medina can say it has one of its own in Lions Park, next to the Erie Canal. Created by artist Richard Bannister, the bright red apple sits beside the canal, as if it had been discarded by a giant. Did you know that Upstate New York’s climate and soil make it the best geographical region in the world to grow apples? This art piece is a testament to that.
• The Only Tunnel Under the Erie Canal, 3699 Culvert Road, Medina — Built nearly 200 years ago, the culvert has been recognized by Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, which is noted on a plague attached to it. Driving through the narrow tunnel — it’s only wide enough for one automobile — can make one a bit nervous. Seeing water drip from the ceiling made me wonder if thousands of gallons of water were about to crash through above me.
• Giant Knight of Armor, 653 Ellicott St., Batavia — This 15-foot tall knight in full plate-mail armor stands outside Armor Building Supply and bears the business’s initials on its shield. The sword alone is taller than me, which makes this sentinel imposing and quite the sight to see when driving by. It definitely grabs your attention.
• Metal Dragon, 10187 Transit Road, East Bethany — Created by artist Tom Stringham, the dragon sits in a field outside of Emerald Models. Since I was born during the Year of the Dragon, I have always held an affinity for the mythical creature. This is no fire-breather, and it’s a bit out of the way, but it is worth the drive out to see it. In fact, I wouldn’t mind having one just like it standing guard on my lawn.
As I said, I embrace the unique. And if it’s odd, I’m there.
Lifestyles Editor Matt Krueger writes the weekly "Welcome Matt" column about his introduction to the Genesee-Orleans-Wyoming region. It appears each Thursday in the Genescene.