Skip to Main Content

Northwest Jitters Hypertour.

Northwest Jitters Day 3: 3,000 Miles of Desperate Destinations

Idaho

Three Forks, Montana to Boise, Idaho

Today's Sights: Oxen Statue That Pees | Clubfoot George's Clubfoot | Teton Flood Museum | Birthplace of TeeVee | World Potato Exposition | Atomic City | Shoshone Ice Caves | Evel Knievel Jumpsite


The fabled Oxen Statue That Pees, in Three Forks, MT.

The next day begins with a sunrise visit to the intersection of 287 and I-90 in Three Forks, and that obscure object of our desire, The Oxen Statue That Pees. Yahoo! We made it! In the distance, a cement factory bellows white steam like a geyser. But our attention is focused on "New Faithful," at home in front of The Prairie Schooner Restaurant. New Faithful is one of the two twelve foot-long oxen statues that appear to be pulling the restaurant. When the cashier inside sees us admiring them, she turns a secret handle - and "New Faithful" pees! Regulars leave their guests outside, rush in, and excitedly demand, "Turn him on!"

[August 2001: Several reports verify that the Prairie Schooner Restaurant has been bulldozed and the oxen are gone!]

Minivan

After seeing New Faithful, we are beside ourselves, and during our next long patch of road the giddiness overtakes us. With "Magnu" pounding, we try to roll down our windows just enough so that the air rushing in vibrates our minivan and creates an infrasound wave which will cause other motorists to lose control of their vehicles.

Infrasound, powerful vibrations of less than 20 cycles per second, was first investigated by French riot police in the 1960s. Our experiment succeeds in spilling Mike's breakfast over Doug's camera bag.

Club Foot George

A Merman Pick!"Club Foot" George's Club Foot is the Thompson-Hickman Museum's most popular exhibit. It was exhumed from the town's Boot Hill to prove that George Lane was one of the four outlaws lynched in 1863 by an overzealous citizen's coalition. Gnarly, swaddled in burlap, and sealed relic-like in a snowglobesque glass cylinder, it's one of the few displayed American body parts that gets its own postcard.

We race south on 87 into Idaho, avoiding Yellowstone and the Tetons. 'Bagos and sleepy weekend sportsmen clog the roads in these afflicted areas. The way they drive, you'd think there's some kind of law against drinking coffee in this part of the world.

Teton Flood Museum

Rexburg, ID is the site of the Teton Flood Museum. The museum is housed in a former Latter Day Saint church, salvaged after a nine foot wall of water from the Teton Dam's 1976 rupture turned Rexburg into Mudville. The museum is a disappointment - housing only a few mud-caked mementos, photoboards, and a dam model along with dull antediluvian Rexburgabilia. You can buy bottles of "Flood Mud" and "Dam Dirt" at the gift counter, though.

Philo's classmateBirthplace of TV

Nearby Rigby was the boyhood home of TV's Dad, Philo Farnsworth, and signs at the city limits proclaim it " The Birthplace of Television." The town museum is located in an old bank building, and the vault enshrines its most precious artifacts - a collection of old TV tubes, a bronze bust of Farnsworth, and some of his personal items and awards.

Volunteer Alice Lufkin, 86, went to high school with Farnsworth. She sits in the vault and tries to provide tourists with a living link to the past. But her secondhand accounts lead us to believe that as an adolescent Lufkin never gave the nerdy Farnsworth the time of day. We do learn that Farnsworth was inspired plowing a potato field, the parallel rows triggering his notion of television scan lines.

[Update: The Rigby Museum has moved out of the bank vault and into an abandoned motel restored by convicts. Also on display are collections of ladies' hats and hide scrapers and, for some reason, a scale model of the Spanish galleon Antocha (sunk in 1622).]

World Potato Expo

More big potato ideas are explained in Blackfoot, where the Idaho Potato Museum homage to the mighty spud. See the world's largest Styrofoam potato, and the world's largest potato chip, a 25-inch Pringle donated by Proctor and Gamble. Ponder the burlap tuxedo worn by the first Potato Commissioner, or the heroic "Potato In Space." The Expo plans to add a simulated potato cellar with authentic smells!

Nuclear Vista.
Scenic overlook. Arco, Idaho.

Atomic City

Uncontaminated dust billows from the road as we screech into Atomic City. More than fifty reactors have been built nearby, but today only 25 people live in this flat, isolated ghost town to be. As we explore the streets in our radiation suits, two patrons come out of the combination bar/post office/gas station and do not kill us.

Instead, they recommend the tour of nearby Arco's Experimental Breeder Reactor 1. This was the World's First Nuclear Power Plant. Picnic tables are thoughtfully provided under a pair of house-sized experimental atomic jet engines.

Shoshone Ice Caves

On to Shoshone Ice Caves, just north of Shoshone. A hairy savage clings to a bright green dinosaur statue at the entrance. The cave's rare underground ice accumulation allows for figure skating photos in its brochure. But the hot air constantly let in by tourists makes the actual ice along the cave floor unskatably sloppy. The cave is pleasantly cold, though not very extensive, and there are no old people playing Chinese checkers at the end.

Knieval Monument

Evel Knievel's Jump Site

The sun plummets, and so do we -- south to Twin Falls and Evel Knievel's Snake River Jump Site. Evel's unsuccessful 1974 attempt to jump across the Snake River Canyon in a rocket powered motorcycle is noted by a small monument in the visitor's center parking lot. The still-extant jump ramp, a big earthen blob, is visible two miles up river.

The drive from Twin Falls to Boise is just as well made at night.

Also see: Northwest Jitters Hypertour

RoadsideAmerica.com Team Field Report

Club Foot George's Club Foot

Thompson-Hickman Museum and Library

Address:
217 Idaho St., Virginia City, MT
Directions:
US Hwy 287 to Hwy 287, then 14 miles west into town. Idaho St. is one block south, and the Thompson-Hickman Museum and Library is just west of Broadway St.
Hours:
W-Su 11-5 (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Phone:
406-843-5346
RA Rates:
Major Fun
Save to My Sights

RoadsideAmerica.com Team Field Report

Museum of Rexburg: Teton Flood Exhibit

Museum of Rexburg

Address:
51 N. Center St., Rexburg, ID
Directions:
Museum of Rexburg. Downtown, in the basement of the Rexburg Tabernacle.
Hours:
Summer M 10-12, 6-8; Tu-Sa 11-2. Fewer hrs off season. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Phone:
208-359-3063
Admission:
Adults $2
Save to My Sights

RoadsideAmerica.com Team Field Report

Birthplace of Television

Farnsworth TV and Pioneer Museum

Address:
118 W. 1st S., Rigby, ID
Directions:
Farnsworth TV and Pioneer Museum. Downtown, on Hwy 48/1st St., one block west of US Hwy 20.
Hours:
Most weekdays and Saturdays. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Phone:
208-745-8423
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

RoadsideAmerica.com Team Field Report

Idaho Potato Museum

Idaho Potato Museum

Address:
130 NW Main St., Blackfoot, ID
Directions:
I-15 exit 93. Drive east into downtown for one mile. Turn left at the stoplight onto US-91/NW Main St. Drive two blocks. The museum will be on the right; look for the big potato.
Hours:
Summer daily 9:30-7; fewer hours and days off-season, (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Phone:
208-785-2517
Admission:
Adults $6.
RA Rates:
Major Fun
Save to My Sights

RoadsideAmerica.com Team Field Report

Atomic City

Atomic City

Address:
US Hwy 26, Atomic City, ID
Directions:
West of Idaho Falls on US Hwy 26, about five miles east of its split with US Hwy 20. South side; watch for the turn-off.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

RoadsideAmerica.com Team Field Report

World's First Nuclear Power Plant: Tour

Experimental Breeder Reactor-1 Visitor Center

Address:
US-26/20, Arco, ID
Directions:
Experimental Breeder Reactor-1 Visitor Center. From the I-15/US-26 interchange in Blackfoot, drive west on US-26 to the intersection US-20. Turn left to go west toward Arco. The left turn to EBR-1 is 5.5 miles from the US-26/20 intersection. The turn is marked with a large EBR-1 sign. The museum is another two miles down the access road on the left.
Hours:
Summer only, daily 9-5 (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Phone:
208-526-0050
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

RoadsideAmerica.com Team Field Report

Shoshone Ice Caves

Shoshone Indian Ice Caves

Address:
1561 N. Hwy. 75, Shoshone, ID
Directions:
Shoshone Indian Ice Caves. Hwy. 75, 17 miles north of Shoshone.
Hours:
Summer daily 8 am - 7:15 pm. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Phone:
208-886-2058
RA Rates:
Major Fun
Save to My Sights

RoadsideAmerica.com Team Field Report

Evel Knievel's Snake River Jump Monument

Buzz Langdon Visitor Center

Address:
1965 Blue Lakes Blvd N., Twin Falls, ID
Directions:
Next to the Twin Falls Visitor Center. The monument is on the northeast corner of the parking lot, at the end of the walkway that leads to the bridge.
Phone:
208-733-3974
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

More Quirky Attractions in Idaho

Stories, reports and tips on tourist attractions and odd sights in Idaho.

Explore Thousands of Unique Roadside Landmarks!

Strange and amusing destinations in the US and Canada are our specialty. Start here.
Use RoadsideAmerica.com's Attraction Maps to plan your next road trip.

My Sights

My Sights on Roadside America

Map and Plan Your Own Roadside Adventure ...Try My Sights

Mobile Apps

Roadside America app: iPhone, iPad Roadside America app for iPhone, iPad. On-route maps, 1,000s of photos, special research targets! ...More

Roadside Presidents app: iPhone, iPad Roadside Presidents app for iPhone, iPad. POTUS landmarks, oddities. ...More

Idaho Latest Tips and Stories

Latest Visitor Tips

Sight of the Week

Sight of the Week

Route 66 Experience: Metal Muffler Man, Springfield, Illinois (May 27-Jun 2, 2024)

SotW Archive

USA and Canada Tips and Stories

More Sightings

Favorite Quirky City Sights