Roadside Attractions: Massachusetts
Fill up the gas tank, hit the road, and keep an eye out for curiosities that have been pleasing passersby for decades.
“Wait, did you see that? Pull over.” If this sounds familiar, you may be one of those people who whizzes by a two-story concrete gorilla, only to pull to a screeching U-turn 50 yards up the road. You may have even posed for a snapshot next to a blue-and-yellow termite the size of a school bus. If you’ve never heard of Queen Connie of Concrete or the Big Blue Bug, it’s time to engage a subculture that celebrates New England’s outsized oddities. There are at least 10 destinations well worth the ride.
The Tin Man, Good Time Stove Co., Goshen
He has a heart like his ancestor in The Wizard of Oz, but this Tin Man is 16 feet tall, and he holds a hammer and cutting shears, the tools of his trade. Richard “Stoveblack” Richardson, who restores and sells antique stoves at the Good Time Stove Co. (fascinating in its own right) in rural northwestern Massachusetts, says the Tin Man was built in 1955 for a local fuel company. Auctioned off after teenagers kept dressing him in funny outfits, he did a stint as a scarecrow and had his head and hands stolen. Finally, he was swapped to Richardson for stove parts. Richardson packed him off to a vocational school, where he got back his original head. “He was full of bullets,” says one student who attended the school. A store worker gave the Tin Man a heart for Christmas 10 years ago, and today, he faces Rt. 112, red heart glowing by day and night. “It gives people a sense of stability,” Richardson says. Rt. 112, 413-268-3677; www.goodtimestove.com.
Detour: Take a scenic drive on Rt. 112 north through the farm country of Buck-land to the junction of Rt. 2 and the village of Shelburne Falls (413-625-2544; www.shelburnefalls.com). A bridge suspended over the Deerfield River spans 400 feet and boasts more than 500 varieties of plants, including flowering vines and shrubs. It’s called the Bridge of Flowers.