This is a follow-up to a previous post, Historical Thingness, where I posted an old photo of The Thing in its original Route 66 location near Barstow, California. Today The Thing (pictured at left) resides near the southern Arizona town of Dragoon, just off Interstate 10 at Exit 322.
The Thing is an old-timey roadside attraction, ballyhooed in eerie-looking script on screaming yellow and blue freeway billboards for a hundred miles in either direction. I use photos of those billboards for the header image of this blog, and the “Thing” in “Paul’s Thing” was inspired by it. My About Paul’s Thing page is a short photoessay about The Thing.
For someone who’s so into The Thing, you’d think I would have paid the price of admission and checked it out before now, but no … although I’ve passed Exit 322 a hundred times, and actually pulled in for gas a few times, I’ve never been inside to see it. That changed today, when Donna and I stopped on our way back from our niece’s graduation ceremony at Western New Mexico University in Silver City.
What you see from the freeway is a typical tourist stop with gas, souvenirs, and a Dairy Queen. Inside, against the back wall, is the door to The Thing. Admission is a dollar. When you go through the door you find yourself outdoors, following giant yellow footprints that take you to three shed-like buildings. Here’s Donna on the trail of The Thing.
The first shed features old cars. I liked Hitler’s Rolls-Royce.
Also, too, a Very Special Exhibit depicting ancient methods of torture, the only one of its kind in the world.
The second shed is filled with grotesque creatures carved from tree trunks, gnarled branches, and driftwood.
The third shed houses The Thing.
But what is it?
All right, a bit of a letdown, not much of a wonder, but what do you expect from a roadside attraction? I was happy. It was worth the dollar. I even went back to the store and bought a coffee cup.
© 2015, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.