Rock in the House.

The Rock in the House

Field review by the editors.

Fountain City, Wisconsin

Spring Green, Wisconsin, is the home of The House on the Rock, one of the wonders of Roadside America.

A closer view.

A hundred miles northwest is this thing.

It's The Rock in the House, a 55-ton boulder that rolled down a hill on April 24, 1995, and crashed into the house of Maxine and Dwight Anderson. When the plaster dust had settled the Andersons found a huge, disc-shaped rock where their master bedroom used to be.

The rock is still there. John Burt, a local real estate investor, bought the house within a month -- with the rock firmly wedged inside it -- and turned it into an attraction.

John, according to his wife, Fran, had just weeks earlier bought the lumber yard in Fountain City, a place where trucks would sometimes crash as they roared down the hill. "A friend said, 'John, you bought the lumber yard where the trucks run into it, maybe you should buy the house with the rock in it.'"

Fran said, "The idea kind of clicked for him."

The Andersons, who had just remodeled the house, were baffled by John's offer. "But the more they thought about it, the more they wanted out of there," said Fran. "I would have done the same thing."

Man vs. Rock? Rock win every time.

(The Andersons have been back to visit the house, said Fran, and are fine with what the Burts have done with it.)

John and Fran live elsewhere in town, so the un-staffed attraction runs on the honor system. You park in the driveway, walk to the front door, and a series of Fran's neatly handwritten notes tell you where to leave your money (It's only two dollars), what to look at ("This is the only window that was broken in the house."), and which doors to open to peek at the rock. The furniture, appliances, and wallpaper all remain from 1995, but nobody's home.

If you don't pay, maybe a big rock will fall on you.

Visitors are invited to walk around to the back of the house to see its ragged, splintered hole. You can touch the rock and try to budge it (you can't). Newspaper clippings tell of other Fountain City disasters: floods, earthquakes, and a 1901 spring thaw boulder that rolled onto the house that had previously stood on this exact spot, killing a Mrs. Dubler (but miraculously sparing her blind husband, who slept next to her in the same bed). You're welcome to stay as long as you like, but it's understandable if you don't.

The Rock in the House has been designated an "object of special character" by the Fountain City Council, and granted a historical preservation permit. If the schedule holds true, the next rock should hit the house in 2089.

The Rock in the House

Address:
440 North Shore Drive, Fountain City, WI
Directions:
North edge of town. On the inland side of Hwy 35/North Shore Drive, about a half-mile north of its intersection with Hwy 95/North St. Look for the little sign.
Hours:
Daily 10-6, April-Oct. (or earlier-later depending on the weather)
Admission:
Adults $2.00 (cash only, bring singles!)
RA Rates:
Major Fun
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September 2, 2014

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