Fine Cheese

In a world of corn palaces, two roadside clich├ęs stand out. Both are so awesomely awful that they must be seen. And both, bizarrely, involve big rocks.

Jul 8, 2008
Outside Magazine

The House on the Rock
Legend has it that the House on the Rock, in Spring Green, Wisconsin, started as an F-You to Frank Lloyd Wright, who once slandered builder Alex Jordan, saying he wasn't fit to design a chicken coop. In retaliation, Jordan's son built a Wright parody atop a rock six miles south of Wright's home. Today, a half-century of construction has morphed the original 14-room house into a 17-building, 2.5-mile-long test of mental health. The HOTR's path winds through shag-carpeted halls crammed with immense collections of beer steins, cogs, firearms, armor, and model angels; a building crammed with ailing dolls; and a hall dedicated to tarnished pipe organs. Push on and you'll find the world's largest carousel, a 14-foot cannon, and a school-bus-size sea monster fighting a giant squid (


The Hole 'n the Rock
This 14-room, 50,000-cubic-foot cave home in Moab, Utah, was blasted by ex–con artist and taxidermist Albert Christensen as a Sisyphean labor of sorrow after his Mount Rushmore–scale carving of FDR was dynamited by government agents in 1941. The place remains intact 50 years after Christensen died (he was laid to rest out front, by the parking lot). On display are his stuffed donkey, sundry oil portraits of Jesus, and a bathtub purportedly chiseled from sandstone by his wife, Gladys. I go to jelly when the teenage tour guide says, "On your left is Albert's Sermon on the Mount, his most famous work." Albert never made it into the Louvre, but his monument endures, a Watts Tower of the canyons, one man's lonely trudge toward immortality. Admission is five bucks, and that includes the emu petting zoo (