Summer road trips are not about the destination—it’s about the weird stuff you might encounter along the way. And Oregon has plenty of weird stuff: the Freakybuttrue Peculiarium, the Oregon Vortex, what is likely the world’s only Bigfoot Trap. But there’s even more where that came from. You just need to know where to look.
While these roadside attractions don’t get as much attention as some of the area’s more famously quirky sites, they’ll nonetheless entertain and baffle you while on the road this summer.
“Retail” Birthplace of U-Haul
In 1946, U-Haul co-founder Leonard S. “Slick” Shoen built what would become the company’s first dealership at the corner of Southeast Foster Road and 88th Avenue. It still stands at the busy street corner today. While at first glance it appears as your typical U-haul dealership, you’ll also find a large historical marker with a picture of Oregon state in the background claiming the location as the “Retail Birthplace of U-Haul”—“retail” being the key word here, as the moving company’s true birthplace is actually in Ridgefield, Wash., where Shoen first put together a few rickety trailers on his family’s ranch. (That is now part of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, although you can see Ridgefield’s rival “Birthplace of U-Haul” sign near where the ranch used to be.)
Directions: From I-205 south, take exit 17 toward Foster Road. Turn right onto Foster and drive for 5 blocks. The destination is at the corner of Foster Road and 88th Avenue.
Train Appreciation Park
Unless you’re a railway enthusiast, it’s uncertain how much the average person will appreciate this park. Tucked away from the main street in Cascade Locks, you’ll find a lone bench surrounded by grass near a tree with a sign reading, “Train Appreciation Park.” The bench naturally faces an active railroad, so you can take it from there.
Directions: From I-84 east, take exit 44 and bear right onto Wa Na Pa Street. Drive just under a mile before turning left onto Northwest Forest Lane. Drive another 1.3 miles and the destination will be on your right.
The quiet port town of Garibaldi is “Oregon’s Authentic Fishing Village,” but the coastal community has another claim to fame—it happens to be home to what is likely the world’s only “cellphone booth.” One might assume that the structure is simply an old, rebranded telephone booth. Nope. Located right next to Tami’s Barber Shop, the booth is owned by the namesake hairstylist and was built by owner Tami Stover’s husband intentionally for cellphone use. “Many times I’d have four or five guys waiting for a haircut and then someone’s cell phone would ring,” Stover says. “We started having people on the phone with their doctors giving colonoscopy results or whatever. And I was like, ‘Oh geez.’ It’s a small shop, so it’s not hard for others to overhear conversations.” It’s worth mentioning that Tami’s is a little-known attraction in itself: A sign outside declares that Stover is the “Tallest Barber in Garibaldi.” At 5 feet tall, Tami is also the only barber in Garibaldi.
Directions: From I-405 south, take exit 1D for US 26 est and drive about 20 miles before bearing slightly left for OR 6 west toward Tillamook. Drive about 50 miles and then turn right onto Wilson River Loop. Continue straight for 0.1 miles and then make a sharp left onto Latimer Road North. Drive about 2 miles before turning right onto US 101 north. Drive another 8 miles before reaching your destination. The cellphone booth is next to Tami’s Barber Shop.
Portland prides itself on having the smallest park in the world, but Salem has its own single-tree park—although it’s definitely not small. Judge William Waldo planted the sequoia on his property in 1872 and insisted that the tree be preserved after vacating the property. On June 15, 1936, the city of Salem officially named the sequoia and surrounding ground a city park. The tree still stands today, now 85 feet tall, with a sign next to it that commemorates its planting. It was named an Oregon Heritage Tree on April 8, 1998.
Directions: From I-5 south, take exit 258 and turn right onto Portland Road Northeast. Drive 2.3 miles before making a slight left onto Summer Street. Drive just under a mile and Waldo Park will be on your right.
Spray Foam Possums at Possum Auto Body & Paint
For many local businesses, half the battle is coming up with a clever gimmick to stand out from the competition. For Albany auto body shop owners Jim and Judy Stauble, the answer was a giant spray-foam possum. The statue is positioned outside the shop and stands about 8 feet tall, holding a spray can in its claws. Stauble later built baby possums that hang next to it in an adjacent tree. In addition to the friendly marsupial, be sure to keep an eye out for Albany’s other unofficial mascot, the Waverly Duck—a spray foam duck that floats in Waverly Lake and greets visitors exiting I-5 during the summer months.
Directions: From I-5 south, take exit 234B for OR 99 toward Albany. Continue on OR 99E south for 2.2 miles before turning right onto Southwest Ellsworth Street. Go 0.1 miles and Possum Auto Body & Paint will be on your right.
Nutty Narrows Bridge
A Longview, Wash., landmark, the Nutty Narrows Bridge was envisioned by local builder Amos Peters, who wanted to create a safe street crossing for squirrels. The bridge was constructed in 1963 and runs from tree to tree across Olympic Way, a busy street once prone to way more rodent fatalities. While it is likely the world’s first bridge intended exclusively for squirrels, it also holds the title of “World’s Narrowest Bridge” as well as “World’s Narrowest Animal Crossing.” While Peters has since passed away, a large squirrel statue dedicated to his memory now stands in a nearby park. The Nutty Narrows Bridge is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Directions: From I-5 north, cross the Interstate Bridge into Washington and keep left to stay on I-5 north. Drive about 40 miles and take exit 36 toward Longview. Drive 2.7 miles and continue on Tennant Way (WA 432 west). After 1 mile, turn right onto 15th Avenue and go a little over half a mile before turning left onto Olympia Way. Make a right onto 16th Avenue then use the right lane to turn left onto Louisiana Street. Continue straight onto Olympia Way before turning left onto 18th Avenue at the Nutty Narrows Bridge.