The House on the Rock is a rather unique road side attraction that was featured in the novel American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Anilia and I both really enjoyed this book and most of Neil’s work in general. It just so happened that we were about an hour away from this while we were staying in Dubuque. We realized this on Saturday and further realized that since we had Sunday off we simply must go check it out. So we did. Now this is what I would have to say is the mac daddy of road side attractions so far as I have seen. This started out as just a cool house that this guy started building up on a chimney rock that has sort of a lodge feel to it. People being the curious lot that they are kept nosing around trying to see what he was up to. To try and deter them he started charging money which just made it more popular and became his source of income for the rest of his life which he spent working on the house every day. He also collected things, lots of things, lots of big weird things. Eventually he sold the house to another guy who continued adding to it and also collected and displayed his big weird collections. It now is over two and a half miles to walk through the “house” and full of many bizarre collections and displays. It is really more than I can hope to describe through words or pictures. I do have a few of each though which I present here in my feeble attempt to share this enormous, bizarre and truly unique oddity. So when you first enter the house it is just a really cool lodge style house with plushy couches and lots of exposed rock and wood. Parts of the house are built with the existing rock as a wall and in many places the house is built around existing trees so that here and there a tree trunk is running up through the room. The house is furnished with lots of great glass work, statues and antiques from around the world like you see here.
Also not to far into the house you start seeing and hearing what will be one of the largest and what I would call insane collections. Auto-matron musical orchestras. These are collections of instruments which are hooked up to a complex array of devices which play the instruments. Here we see one of the smaller ones. I believe this one played a russian sounding piece. The musical menagerie is visible through a picture frame window and at this point which is still pretty early this is the third or fourth of these we have encountered.
So next to this device is what they call the infinity room. It is a single unsupported hallway that extends out over the forest floor a couple hundred feet up and it built in such a way as to create the illusion that it extends into (in reverb voice) INFINITY AND BEYOND. Well it attempts, pretty obvious it doesn’t but hey it’s still pretty cool.
After more cool house bits we cross over into the part that is no longer really the house but mile after mile of weird and wacky collections. For example there is his gun collection, now these are not your daddy’s guns. No these are strange creations like these bad boys.
We go through more areas of strange displays of old odd antiques and more auto-matron machines and get to a section that is called something like the SPIRIT OF THE SEA or perhaps LOTS OF BOAT CRAP. Anyway part of it is a giant sculpture of a battle between a giant octopus and a sea whale creature. Now this thging is several stories tall and the whole room wraps around it. Here it is atttempting to EAT ME!
There is also another one of those auto-matron orchestras in this room by which an octopus plays “OCTOPUS’ GARDEN” about 100 times by the time we have made our way out of this room.
SO now we get into a new area called the HALL OF MUSIC I think. and we are about to see many more of the auto-matron orchestras but many of these are entire rooms that are huge a gloriously decorated to levels of utter whatthehelledness. Here are sections of two of them that each were larger than a typical house room.
After many more of these bizarre feats of engineering we come into the worlds largest carousel. Now this is the part that I mainly remember from the book AMERICAN GODS this is where they all get together for their meeting and I must say it seems as good a place as I can think of for a bunch of outdated gods to have a meeting of the minds. The carousel is too big to get a decent picture of the whole thing. But here is a close-up that is actually a décolletage of two pics of it one blurry one still.
Now at this point there is only one logical way to go after so much sensory overload and that is down into the belly of a giant gorilla head and into the strangest room yet….
OH NO DON’T EAT ME!!!”
Now this next room is really hard to try and describe as it is by far the weirdest and is way to massive to try and capture in a picture. Just imagine a giant interactive still life made from mostly whiskey stills, giant steins, massive wooden clock parts, elaborate organs (I’m talking like electric Beethoven wet dreams here), Huge wrenches, chandeliers, winding staircases and various figurine sculptures all integrated together in what must make perfect sense to a complete looney. Anyway I couldn’t hope to capture the enormity of it in a pic, so I focused on a small little section of clockwork orange.
But before it’s all over there is also the largest of the automated orchestras yet. This one including mannequins and a steamboat full of musicians. Here you see just the seated orchestra half. Even one of their feet was rigged up to tap his foot to the music.
There was much more I’ve left out after this but at that point I was bored and over-stimulated and ready to be done with it as I’m sure you must be with this blog. All I can say is if you ever get to Wisconsin it is worth checking out for sure. Oh and Anilia hates her phone.