The Enchanted Highway North Dakota is one of the most unique and intriguing attractions in the United States, and the history behind this captivating stretch of highway has echoes of a fairytale. With the threat of becoming one of North Dakota's ghost towns if nothing was done, the town of Regent was revived by a retired school teacher. Regent lies an hour and half south of Dickinson and more than 25 miles away from any major highway. Gary Greff, a retired teacher with a keen interest in metal sculptures, came up with an idea so good it put Regent on the map forever.
Beginning in 1990, Greff came up with the idea to create ten massive metal sculptures that would dot Regency-Gladstone Road every few miles and be named the Enchanted Highway. At the site of each of these incredible sculptures, he planned to build relaxing picnic areas complete with playgrounds for children. With a pleasant area for dining and a place for tourists to unwind, there are a few more things to do around Regent after tours of the highway. Traffic coming off the interstate drives straight toward the magnificent creations, seven which have been completed.
Greff created something remarkable in his plan to revive Regent. The Enchanted Highway North Dakota is one of the most distinctive attractions in the state and a success story that no one tires of hearing. Along the more than 30-mile stretch of county highway, visitors can see the likes of a larger-than-life Teddy Roosevelt riding a kicking horse. The Enchanted Highway is also home to the Tin Family, including a noticeable boy wearing a propeller hat and grasping a lollipop, which lies a mile and half away from the town of Regent.
Nine miles from Regent is a metal flock of pheasants that was finished in 1998. A 60-foot rooster and a 50-foot hen are part of that ambitious project, and twelve-foot baby chicks complete the sculpture. In 1999, Greff finished a sculpture of the world's largest grasshopper, and three years later he assembled Deer Crossing, which features a gigantic deer leaping into the air. Geese in Flight depicts ten geese sailing by the sun. With welding as his passion, Gary Greff not only found a new way to pass the time, he also created a sense of pride and accomplishment for the once-fading town of Regent.
The most complex of Greff's sculptures is the seventh completed one, Fisherman's Dream. Finished in 2007, Greff’s artwork shows metal fish jumping more than 70 feet into the air through an intricately welded metal pond. Greff's only disappointment is his inability to work on his masterpieces in the dry months, one of the hottest periods for North Dakota vacations, when brush fires are a serious concern. Instead, Greff plans ahead during this period, choosing to build and paint along with a number of volunteers eager to help out with this world-renowned project.
When you're traveling along the Enchanted Highway North Dakota perhaps you'll have the good fortune of running into Greff himself, as he maintains and builds along this celebrated stretch. He likes to talk about his sculptures and gladly answers any questions. Toward the end of the Enchanted Highway and throughout Regent, Greff has made more marks with his blooming metal trees. Working with a small budget of donations that he collects, Greff is planning the next addition to the Enchanted Highway: a massive spider web replete with crawling metal spiders. Greff hopes Regent will become a staple on North Dakota tours, and he plans to build a water park, amphitheater, and dining facility along the Enchanted Highway. Rest assured, this magical highway is well worth the detour.