Anyone who has driven the state has seen some of the darnedest things, many of which have now been catalogued in a book by freelance writer Eric Dregni.
Called "Minnesota Marvels: Roadside Attractions in the Land of Lakes," the book is a "tour of the inspired, bizarre, brilliant, scandalous and funny sites around the state."
Not unexpectedly, several of its 200-plus pages are reserved for Paul Bunyan -- the original in Bemidji, the tallest in Akeley and the largest talking version in Baxter -- and several other area attractions.
The Twin Cities-based writer recently extracted from the book what he called "the seven wonders of Minnesota" for a travel story in the Star Tribune.
Baxter's talking Paul is on the list, cited for its "elaborate system of levers and pulleys that make Paul blink, nod, lift his arms and wow the crowd of tots with tall tales of old logging days."
The other "seven wonders" include the Kensington runestone in Alexandria, the Spam Museum in Austin, the statue of Saint Urho in Menahga, the Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth, the Big Fish in Bena, and the "world's largest ball of twine by a single person" in downtown Darwin.
Published by the University of Minnesota Press, "Marvels" catalogues 90 sites and 19 community events across the state, including the Nordic Inn in Crosby, the fishing bobber water tower in Pequot Lakes and walleye salute in Garrison.
Crosslake's drive-in church, Beanhole Days in Pequot Lakes and the annual Fish House Parade in Aitkin get attention in the book's listing of quirky events.
For more information about the book, consult the publisher's Web site at www.unpress.umn.edu.
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