Town of Uranus.
Oasis in the night: tattoos, guns, and fudge in Uranus.

Uranus

Field review by the editors.

Uranus, Missouri

Louie Keen lists his professional skills as "Dictator" and "Freestyle Rapper," but he's best known as the red-white-and-blue-bedecked mayor of Uranus, Missouri. When we asked Louie what got him elected, he answered, "I'm very handsome," then admitted that Uranus has only one voter, and it's Louie Keen.

The Honorable Louie Keen, Mayor of Uranus.
The Honorable Louie Keen, Mayor of Uranus.

Like boom towns of the Wild West, Uranus appeared seemingly out of nowhere. Louie owned the property: an old roadside mall along Route 66 that catered to Fort Leonard Wood soldiers with a strip club, an adult boutique, and a place called, "Cap'n Poupy's." But Louie had a vision for a town named Uranus -- he said it came to him while drinking -- and in 2013 he began replacing the old businesses with others more in tune with this new theme.

"We traveled all over when I was a kid; my parents were livestock dealers," Louie said. "We always used to stop at these roadside things and I just loved them. I remembered them."

Uranus merchandise.
Gift shop mugs allow everyone to become a Uranus Fudge Packer.

That, Louie decided, would be his goal: to create a place that people would remember.

When Louie opened the Uranus Fudge Factory and General Store on July 2, 2015, he let loose with a diarrhetic wave of awful Uranus puns, perfect for billboards and t-shirts. "The Best Fudge comes from Uranus." "People love to play in Uranus." "Don't leave skid marks around Uranus." Cashiers in the General Store waved out customers with a cheerful, "Thank you for picking Uranus!"

"I thought, 'Heck, I can make fudge. My wife can help out behind the counter,'" Louie recalled. "Two months later I was working all day, working all night, and I said to myself, 'Dude, I can't make this much fudge!' I had no idea it would take off as fast as it did."

Beyond the appeal of what Louie insisted was very good fudge, Uranus enticed travelers as a kind of dysfunctional, self-contained utopia, like South of the Border and Da Yoopers. Uranus, said Louie, was the kind of place tourists want to find on a road trip, with life-size dinosaurs, cheesy photo-ops, ridiculous souvenirs, two-headed freaks, the World's Largest Belt Buckle, and various shops and attractions such as a hatchet-hurling venue named The Uranus Axehole. Louie said that some of his "cool ideas" came from his familiarity with Roadside America -- thanks, Louie -- and seems willing to try anything, then toss it aside if he finds something better.

Jurassic Diner.
Jurassic Diner beckons wannabe human snacks.

Uranus of Route 66.
Giant belt buckle is a Guinness World Record. "Every real roadside stop needs a World Record something," said the mayor.

"My idea is to make this just the craziest, most mind-blowing place you ever went to," said Louie, which struck us as an admirable if slightly insane business plan. But Louie the mayor also has his hand in the growth of Uranus, tempering Louie the businessman's entrepreneurial enthusiasm with surprising sensitivity, especially for an attraction that boasts, Uranus is expanding; please excuse our mess. "I want you to feel like you're going to this living, breathing, awesome town," Louie said, describing his Uranus-onian dream. "I get mad sometimes because I don't yet feel like it has all the soul in it. I want this place to have soul in it."

Louie is usually around, either greeting visitors in his mayoral "pure America" outfit or out in his work clothes, sweeping floors, picking up trash in the parking lot. "I look like the janitor," he laughed. When an occasional visitor complains about Uranus, Louie asks them if they dislike all the planets, or just this one.

Uranus Zoological Park.
In the food truck "Funkyard," a memorable photo-op for Uranus Zoological Park.

Louie ran us through a list of his many planned projects for Uranus -- all secret -- and said that while he was grateful for his frontage on Route 66, he was also frustrated by the Mother Road's current emphasis on nostalgia. "People always say, 'Route 66, we gotta fix all that old stuff,'" he said. "Yeah, you gotta fix some of that old stuff, but you gotta build new stuff, too."

New stuff is not lacking in Uranus, and Louie needs only the time and a few million dollars -- his estimate -- to build all of the concepts bubbling in his brain.

"My ideas are scary things," he said, but visitors shouldn't be scared to probe Uranus and find the mayor, who is busily building his Shangri-La one toilet joke at a time. "Make sure," Louie said, "you mention how handsome I am."

Also see: Traveling Sideshow Settles in Uranus

Uranus

Address:
14400 Hwy Z, Uranus, MO
Directions:
I-44 exit 163. Drive south to Hwy Z/Route 66 and turn right. You'll see the red Uranus Fudge Factory sign in about a half-mile, on the left.
Hours:
Daily 8-8 (Call to verify)
Phone:
573-336-8758
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Jurassic Diner DinosaursJurassic Diner Dinosaurs, St. Robert, MO - < 1 mi.
Bar with Bras on the CeilingBar with Bras on the Ceiling, Devils Elbow, MO - 3 mi.
Military Museums of Fort Leonard WoodMilitary Museums of Fort Leonard Wood, Fort Leonard Wood, MO - 6 mi.
In the region:
Missouri State Penitentiary Tours, Jefferson City, MO - 51 mi.

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September 20, 2018

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