Towering over exit 72 on Interstate 94 in western North Dakota is a giant metal sculpture of geese in flight. The size of a ten-story building, Geese In Flight has an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest scrap-metal sculpture. It’s just the beginning.
Gary Greff, lifelong resident of Regent, North Dakota, recognized the beginning of the end of his hometown. The population was declining rapidly, and times were tough. How, he wondered, could Regent survive? How, for example, could it attract tourists from the nearby Interstate to come to Regent?
His simple answer: give them a reason to drive down the road. His idea was to erect huge metal sculptures along the road, leading the way to Regent. He was neither a sculptor nor an artist of any kind at the time, and many laughed at his crazy idea, but he convinced land owners on the road to lease him some land for a dollar and got to work.
The first installation, The Tin Family, went up in 1991. As of 2006, there are six more, found at intervals of several miles along what has been officially renamed “The Enchanted Highway.” They are bloody huge. You needn’t worry about missing one: you’ll see it coming.
My favorite is Pheasants on the Prairie, with the colorful metal birds towering overhead. Regent is apparently famous for its pheasant population, and popular with the hunters who enjoy killing the birds. Indeed, I saw several pheasants along the highway.
The best part is that it’s apparently working. No one is laughing at Mr. Greff any more, who now runs an Enchanted Highway gift shop and RV park in Regent, and relies on donations to fund the sculpture installations. More information can be found at the North Dakota Tourism website.