Wisconsin is weird — House on the Rock

One of the things growing up in Wisconsin taught me is that Wisconsin is weird.  Come on, Wisconsin is home to at least two world famous serial killers.  Ed Gein liked to make lampshades out of human faces and cover his furniture with human skin.  Jeffrey Dahmer engaged in necrophilia and liked to keep skulls as souvenirs.  Look it up if you don’t believe me.  If that isn’t weird enough for you, the official state dance is a polka — seriously, the polka.  Wisconsin produced both Liberace and Joseph McCarthy.  Kids compete in jump rope competitions every year, hoping to earn a trip to Bloomer, the jump rope capital of the world.  While the official state beverage is milk, any true Wisconsinite will tell you that the unofficial state beverage is beer and that the unofficial state cocktail  is a brandy Old Fashioned (although, personally, I prefer a brandy slush served out of a Kemps ice cream bucket).  You won’t go to a potluck without finding a bowl of Cool Whip mixed with red Jello (often with a can of fruit cocktail mixed in for good measure).  Hunting season is a school holiday in rural areas (or, at least it used to be).  And, Wisconsinites are proud to be called Cheeseheads.  Which might just be because, at least as of a few years ago, Wisconsin was home to 7 of the top 10 drunkest cities in the country.

But, if you have any doubt about how weird Wisconsin is, just visit the House on the Rock.


The 218 foot long infinity room at the House on the Rock with some of its 3264 windows.

You could say the House on the Rock is a dark and dingy house built on a 60 foot chimney of rock.  But it is so much more than that.


Japanese gardens at the House on the Rock.

House on the Rock is all about one man’s crazy obsession.  The story is that a man named Alex Jordan used to picnic on Deer Shelter Rock.  Eventually, Jordan decided to build a house on the rock to use as a weekend retreat.  Allegedly, he carried the rocks to build the house up the mountain by himself.


A collection of creepy puppets at House on the Rock.

He kept building and building his very dark, very uncomfortable, shag carpeting filled monstrosity until people got curious.  So, he started charging 50 cents to visit his house, thinking it would deter people.  But, this being America, people just kept paying and Jordan just kept building.


A carousel horse at House on the Rock.  Note this horse is NOT on an actual carousel.  It is just hanging on a wall with hundreds of other carousel animals.

Now, the house is but a small part of the experience.  Jordan built warehouses and filled them with “treasures.”  Creepy puppets, creepy dolls, creepy music machines with odd figures pretending to play music that is piped in through speakers, a huge organ, Tiffany lamps, a humongous whale battling an octopus while swallowing a fisherman, and collections of guns and armor and crown jewels are just a few of Jordan’s “treasures.”


Circus exhibit at House on the Rock.

If you can name it, you can probably find it at House on the Rock.  For years, Jordan insisted that his “treasures” were real.  Now, we know that many (but not all) are reproductions.


Knights battling elephants at the House on the Rock.

The highlight is most likely the world’s biggest (maybe) carousel, with nearly 300 animals — none which are horses — and 20,000 lights.  Unfortunately, everything is kept so dark that we couldn’t get a decent picture of the carousel.  (As you can see from the photos on this post, we couldn’t get a decent picture of almost anything….)


The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse at the House on the Rock.

But you know what?  As weird as it is, it just isn’t weird enough to justify they $30 entrance fees.  The exhibits are old and dusty, the lighting is dim, the entire place smells like dust, and unless something is so out there as to be unbelievable (see the above elephant for example), there is no way to know what is real and what is fake.  Feel free to go and enjoy the corniness, but don’t expect a life-altering adventure.  (Yes, we are Neil Gaiman fans.  Yes, we know this paragraph is probably sacrilege after American Gods was filed at House on the Rock.)


About theschneiduks

Lisa has a degree in biology and another in law and has spent the last 20 years working as a patent litigator. She is a voracious reader of young adult dystopian fiction and watches far too much bad tv. She loves pretty much anything to do with zombies, and doesn’t think there is anything weird about setting an alarm at 6 am on a weekend to stumble to a pub to watch her beloved Chelsea boys. Robert has had many professions, including a chef, a salesman, an IT guy and most recently, a stay at home dog dad. He speaks Italian and hopes to learn Spanish on this trip. He loves nothing more than a day spent sailing, hopes to do more scuba diving, and rues the day he introduced Lisa to football (i.e., soccer).
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