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Tired of the same old sights? Try these Western Pa. roadside attractions

Shirley McMarlin
| Monday, March 12, 2018, 3:22 p.m.
Bedford County's restored Coffee Pot is one of Western Pennsylvania's iconic roadside attractions.
psu.edu
Bedford County's restored Coffee Pot is one of Western Pennsylvania's iconic roadside attractions.
A model of the Kecksburg UFO in Kecksburg.
Tribune-Review
A model of the Kecksburg UFO in Kecksburg.
Randy Gilson is the artist/owner of Randyland.
Tribune-Review
Randy Gilson is the artist/owner of Randyland.
Celeste Van Kirk | Trib Total Media
Alex Molnar of Mars plays on a replica spaceship or flying saucer in the center of his town Friday, May 15, 2015.
Tribune-Review
Alex Molnar of Mars plays on a replica spaceship or flying saucer in the center of his town Friday, May 15, 2015.
Phantastic Phils Public Art Project includes 32 larger-than-life fiberglass groundhogs at business establishments throughout Punxsutawney.
Punxsutawney Groundhog Club
Phantastic Phils Public Art Project includes 32 larger-than-life fiberglass groundhogs at business establishments throughout Punxsutawney.
American flags billow in the wind at the Avenue of Flags, a park in the city of Hermitage in Mercer County, Pennsylvania, United States, erected during the Iran hostage crisis to honor the American diplomats held hostage in Tehran, Iran. The park is on the grounds of the Hillcrest Memorial Park cemetery and contains a glass monument which has the 6906 names of every military personnel killed by an act of terrorism inscribed on it.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Tribune-Review
American flags billow in the wind at the Avenue of Flags, a park in the city of Hermitage in Mercer County, Pennsylvania, United States, erected during the Iran hostage crisis to honor the American diplomats held hostage in Tehran, Iran. The park is on the grounds of the Hillcrest Memorial Park cemetery and contains a glass monument which has the 6906 names of every military personnel killed by an act of terrorism inscribed on it. Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
One of the incline plane cars rides down the slope form the hill over looking downtown Johnstown from old Westmont. In July of 1977
Tribune-Review
One of the incline plane cars rides down the slope form the hill over looking downtown Johnstown from old Westmont. In July of 1977
Perry Como statue in front of Canonsburg municipal building.
Tribune-Review
Perry Como statue in front of Canonsburg municipal building.

If you're tired of showing your guests the same-old, same-old, as it applies to local landmarks — no offense, Fallingwater and Mt. Washington — here are some strange and wonderful roadside attractions you may have skipped in your Western Pennsylvania travels:

UFO "space acorn"

5123 Water St., Kecksburg

Something strange happened over the skies of Kecksburg on Dec. 9, 1965. Residents cried "UFO," and reports say the military found an alien object and quickly hauled it away. Reminding people of this unsolved mystery are this acorn-shaped monument and the yearly UFO festival.

Details: kecksburgvfd.com

Randyland

1501 Arch St., Pittsburgh, Allegheny County

One man's junk is another man's treasure, as evidenced by artist Randy Gilson's North Side Pittsburgh property. Since 1995, Gilson has painted the entire building in bright colors and created a garden of delightful debris.

Details: randy.land

Great Cross of Christ

887 Jumonville Road, Hopwood, Fayette County

Erected in 1950 on Dunbar's Knob, the 60-foot steel cross is visible from seven counties, three states and 50 miles on a clear day. It's a popular pilgrimage site from nearby Jumonville Christian Camp and Conference Center.

Details: jumonville.org

Mars flying saucer

100 Pittsburgh St., Mars, Butler County

The town of Mars pays homage to its celestial moniker with a silver flying saucer, looking straight out of a 1950s science fiction movie, in the town square. At about 3 feet tall and 6 feet across, the diminutive UFO makes a great photo op for locals and visitors alike.

Details: roadsideamerica.com

Singing statue of Perry Como

68 E. Pike St., Canonsburg, Washington County

This statue of Canonsburg native Perry Como stands right outside the borough building and actually croons 24/7 at passersby.

Details: roadsideamerica.com

Bison Corral

2708 Route 30, Schellsburg, Bedford County

What started in 1988 as a hobby with four animals on a Juniata County farm has expanded to the Bedford County location, with fields of animals to observe. Gift shop offerings include bison-themed gifts, authentic Native American crafts and bison meat.

Details: visitbedfordcounty.com/bison/

Gravity hill

Bethel Hollow Road near New Paris, Bedford County

A gravity hill is an optical illusion where a car in neutral, or other objects, appear to roll uphill. Though not unique to Pennsylvania (or other states), Bedford County's gravity hill is the best-known in the state and features spray paint on the pavement so you know where to start and stop.

Details: gravityhill.com

Sundae-shaped ice cream shop

462 E. Main St., Everett, Bedford County

Igloo Soft Freeze might be the only ice cream shop shaped like an ice cream sundae, right down to the cherry on the top.

Details: facebook.com

The Coffee Pot

108 Telegraph Road, Bedford, Bedford County

Built in 1927, the 18-foot-high Coffee Pot was originally a lunch place adjoining a gas station, a welcome rest stop along the busy Lincoln Highway (Route 30). The structure housed various businesses before being preserved as an iconic example of "programmatic architecture" by the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor.

Details: lhhc.org

Johnstown Inclined Plane

206 Johns St., Johnstown, Cambria County

Open April through December for commuting and sightseeing, the almost 900-foot funicular railway is branded as the steepest in the world. It was built to connect downtown Johnstown with homes in Westmont Borough after the devastating 1889 flood.

Details: inclinedplane.org

Phantastic Phils

Punxsutawney, Jefferson County

The cartoonish groundhog statues have been a highlight for Groundhog Day visitors and others since the first one appeared in 2004. Each is decorated by a local artist to depict a historic or cultural aspect of the region.

Details: groundhog.org

Home of the "world's largest hamburger"

1452 Woodland Road, Clearfield, Clearfield County

Denny's Beer Barrel Pub serves a massive 125-pound burger — just give the pub 72 hours to prepare it for your party. Challenge yourself to eat other burgers from 2 to 25 pounds — but don't worry, the biggest are meant for two people. If you finish in the allotted time, you get 50 percent off the price and a T-shirt (size XXL, we hope).

Details: dennysbeerbarrelpub.com

Giant Zippo lighter

1932 Zippo Drive, Bradford, McKean County

A 40-foot replica lighter welcomes you to the 15,000-square-foot Zippo/Case Museum, and lighter-shaped street lights line the roadway. Admission is free to view historic models, a repair shop and store and exhibits highlighting Zippo's roles in World War II, Hollywood, music and more.

Details: zippo.com

Landlocked lighthouse

5 Lighthouse Island, Tionesta, Forest County

The 75-foot-tall lighthouse stands 60 miles from Lake Erie, the nearest navigable body of water. Completed in 2004 by Tionesta native Jack Sherman, the structure has 76 stairs and seven floors that display items of Sherman's family heritage, his collection of lighthouse miniatures and artwork.

The local Lions club opens the lighthouse for tours a few times each year.

Details: e-clubhouse.org/sites/tionesta/page-6.php

Tiny church

101 Decker Chapel Road, St. Marys, Elk County

Michael Decker built this tiny chapel in 1856 after being injured in a fall from an apple tree. He vowed to build a chapel if the injury healed. Generally viewed as one of the smallest chapels in the United States, the building made the National Register of Historical Places in 1998.

Details: roadsideamerica.com

Check's Radio Museum

660 Hillville Road, Karns City, Armstrong County

Retired KDKA engineer Mel Check opened his private collection to the public in 1999, in a room above his detached garage. The museum features about 1,500 radios, ranging from 1920s speakers to 1980s cartoon character radios.

The museum is open 1-6 p.m. most Sundays from May to October and by appointment at 724-526-5202.

Details: uncoveringpa.com/checks-radio-museum

"Read Between the Signs"

18492 Smock Highway, Meadville, Crawford County

This 1,200-foot long sculptural relief wall made of repurposed road signs decorates the perimeter of the local Pennsylvania Department of Transportation maintenance office. There are also flowers made of reclaimed signs on the lot.

Details: amarageffenstudios.com

Avenue of 444 Flags

2619 E. State St., Hermitage, Mercer County

Hillcrest Memorial Park owner Tom Flynn called attention to the Iranian Hostage Crisis in 1979 by raising a U.S. flag in the park. As the crisis wore on, he added another flag daily. By the time the hostage situation ended on Jan. 21, 1981, he had erected 444 flags. Since then, the park has been renamed America's Cemetery and also contains Vietnam War and War on Terror memorials.

Details: avenueofflags.com/

Coudersport Ice Mine

176 Ice Mine Road, Coudersport, Potter County

This geological oddity forms icicles during warm weather. Ice formations appear in the shaft during the spring, continue through the hot weather, and disappear in winter. The mine is open Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Details: facebook.com/gary.buchsen/

World's oldest continuously producing oil well

Waitz Road, Oil City, Venango County

The McClintock No. 1 well began pumping crude oil in 1861 and continues to produce to this day. The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission acquired the site in 2000, and the Drake Well Museum, which maintains it, pumps the well occasionally to ensure its historic status. The well yields one to two barrels a day, which is used at the museum or bottled and sold as souvenirs.

Details: drakewell.org/what-to-see-and-do/mcclintock-well-1

America's oldest gas station

3205 Sixth St., Altoona, Blair County

In continuous operation since 1909, the present-day Reighard's garage and office occupy the original cinder-block structure, thought to be the oldest gas station still in service in the United States. The Reighard family operated the station until 1978, when Martin Oil Co. took over.

Details: martinoilco.com/reighards

And if you're heading eastward, this list from penn.live has more attractions on the other side of the Allegheny Mountains.

Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5750, smcmarlin@tribweb.com or via Twitter @shirley_trib.

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