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June 19th: House on the Rock & Steve

• CATEGORIES: Features • TAGS: .
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Steve and I in front of this CJ-2A on a beautiful midwest afternoon.

In 1993 I visited the House on the Rock near Dodgeville, Wisconsin, for the first time. Mom, my sister, and my ex-wife went with us. We’d heard it was a popular place to visit, but no one could really describe why. After our visit, I could see why people couldn’t explain it. All I knew is that some day I hoped to experience it again.

On Wednesday (20 years after the first visit) I returned. I told Ann that you have to see the place to believe it. It starts with an unusual house built on a rock (actually part of it is cantilevered over the rock) and then becomes a series of collections and spaces ands spectacles. There will be music, a giant whale, and the world’s largest carousel.

I felt beating the large crowds would make the experience more enjoyable, so we arrived when they opened at 9am. The cost is $28 per person and the fact that I didn’t balk at that must have surprised Ann. Arriving early worked well. We spent most of our time wandering through the maze of paved streets and hallways by ourselves armed with tokens to play all the different music machines (I’d advise getting at least $5 dollars worth of tokens.)

I won’t go into the history of how Alex Jordan created this amazing spectacle, but it seems a meeting with Frank Lloyd Wright and some subsequent spite played a huge role on why Jordan landed atop a rock. Just enjoy the pictures.

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Here’s the entrance.

The house is made up of two parts. A long walkway connects the two. All of it has a Japanese theme. There’s lots of limestone, small spaces and neat angles. The infinity room is the most spectacular.

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After the house you enter the second part of the tour called Yesteryear. This area is quite dark, so it’s hard to get good non-flash photos. As you wind through different rooms and spaces, you can play put tokens into them and hear the music.

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This Red Room is full of different instruments that play as an automatronic band.

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This is one whale of a room!

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In this room a three story whale is getting attacked by a giant squid.

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Did I mention this whale is huge?

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You can see inside the whale’s mouth in this photo. That boat is the size of a canoe.

Eventually we got to the third portion of the tour, which includes the carousel and much more:

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Carousel room with an endless collection of horses on the walls and ceilings. Photographing the carousel proved difficult because it spins continuously.  Note the man sitting in the background. that’s how large this room is.

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Those overhead walkways show just how big those steel drums(?) are.

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Another photo showing Ann underneath everything.

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Stuff everywhere!

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Another animatronic group that plays to tokens.

Ann spotted the only jeep we saw:

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It took us three hours to complete our House On the Rock tour and we moved pretty quickly through it. We also didn’t read anything at the start of the tour. It’s an amazing experience and most everyone will enjoy it.

After the House, Ann and I headed to Steve’s house in Ames, Iowa. Steve has a runabout CJ-2A and several CJ & wagon projects. With a hope of reaching Kearny, NE, at a reasonable time, we didn’t stay too long, but it was great to finally meet him after exchanging a variety of emails! Thanks for working with your schedule Steve!

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3 Comments on “June 19th: House on the Rock & Steve

  1. mom

    I think I need another tour of that house. Have forgotten a lot. Thanks for the great photos as reminders of that tour,. BTW, I am enjoying your book even though I already read it recently.

  2. STEVE

    Good to meet you and Ann. Only you would find a jeep at the House on the Rock………….

  3. Robert Anderson

    Wish I would have known you were going to be there…
    I live about an hour away, and would have come over to say HI !
    Cheers,
    Bob

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