In my post on the The Benini Foundation Galleries and Sculpture Ranch, I mentioned its scuptures as something I thought worth the drive to see. I wasn’t kidding. Two years ago we drove to Regent, North Dakota specifically to see The Enchanted Highway. I heard about this place and Gary Greff, the guy who created it, on a NPR radio segment and thought, “I’ve got to go there.” Never mind that I live in Columbus, Ohio and, according to Map Quest, Regent is 1,312.05 miles away. So what if we were traveling with two kids, a 3 year-old and an 11 year-old, and were without a DVD player or any electronics except for our car cassette player.
Okay, it is true that we were driving to Montana anyway, but still, we weren’t driving past Regent. It took a substantial detour off the highway to get there which is exactly what Gary Greff counts on. A few years back he looked at the rapidly shrinking population of his hometown that used to have a thriving economy in ranching and wondered what he could do to keep it from dipping below 200 people. He decided that if he built fantasically large metal sculptures that lead into Regent people would head there and businesses would open. It worked with us. Plus, we ran into a whole bunch of bikers on some major bike tour at an ice-cream stand in town. Regent was their overnight stop.
The scuptures were more than I anticipated. They are magnificantly creative, interesting and quite different from each other. Instead of one gigantic pheasant, for example, there is an entire pheasant family. The pheasants are made in such a way that you can see through them to the others. The most whimisical of the seven sculptures is The Tin Family. It’s billed as being “The World’s Largest Tin Family.” I didn’t know there are other tin families. The scupture that has the distinction of being the World’s Largest Scrap Metal Sculpture is Geese in Flight. This one is at The Enchanted Highway exit off U.S. 94 to entice visitors to make the jaunt to Regent.
In order to entice travelers further along The Enchanted Highway, a 32 mile expanse of road into town, the scuptures are spaced far enough from the others so that you have to keep driving to see them all. When we were there, Gary just happened to be giving a talk at the town’s school. I had the chance to talk to him in person. He is quite the affable guy and totally into his mission. He also gives much kudos to folks who have helped him make his visions reality. Read each sculpture’s description on the Web site to find out who helped make it and its specifications.
On our way out of town, we ran into Gary at The Tin Family. He was collecting trash from the trash cans– just another hat he wears to keep the town ready for company and hopefully, more and more action.