Wednesday, February 07, 2007

a return to the paranormal...and kelly, kelly, kelly!


for a while now i've wanted to try to steer this blog over toward the paranormal on a more frequent basis. what with the holdiays and trivia and the wonderful stories and scripts by brian and alison, i felt like i had strayed a bit from one of what i consider to be the staples of this dialogue, the paranormal.

thankfully, i think scott did too...

in his never-ending quest to scan the internet for news of the world for them to skew on snl, scott came across this curious article on yahoo! news and sent it on over.


Mysterious Wis. Wonder Spot soon to go
By TODD RICHMOND, Associated Press Writer Mon Feb 5, 5:56 AM ET
LAKE DELTON, Wis. - In a wooded ravine tucked away from the water parks, restaurants and mega-resorts that dominate this tourist town, a piece of history is quietly dying.

AP Photo: Bill Carney stands in front of a sign at the Wonder Spot Jan. 18, 2007,...

After more than half a century of wowing tourists (and causing probably more than a few cases of nausea), the Wonder Spot, a mysterious cabin where people can't stand up straight, water runs uphill and chairs balance on two legs, is no more.

Owner Bill Carney has sold the iconic attraction to the village of Lake Delton for $300,000. The village wants to build a road through the crevice where the Wonder Spot has stood since the 1950s.

Now, the Wonder Spot, one of more than a dozen sites around the nation dubbed "gravity vortexes" and a throwback to postwar, family-oriented tourist attractions, has a date with a bulldozer.

"We're kind of wondering how the town is going to deal with the gravitational forces under the road. That might be an issue with driving and how you bank a curve," joked Doug Kirby, publisher of, which catalogs odd tourist attractions.

Kirby's site lists the Wonder Spot as one of 21 so-called "mystery spots." Lake Wales, Fla., has Spook Hill. Irish Hills, Mich., has the Mystery Hill. California has the Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz.

The story behind each one is similar — gravity doesn't work in them. People seem to grow smaller, can't stand up straight and can barely walk.

Promotions boast that strange forces in the spots trump the laws of physics. Others say they're just elaborate hoaxes.

"It seems like to spend a lot of scientific effort to debunk these places you're just sucking the fun out of a tourist attraction a lot of people enjoy," Kirby said.

The Wonder Spot lies just off U.S. Highway 12, the main drag between Lake Delton and Wisconsin Dells in south-central Wisconsin. Together, the two cities constitute Wisconsin's answer to Las Vegas. The corridor between them is packed with water parks, giant resorts, museums, hotels and restaurants. The area convention bureau boasts the region is the water park capital of the world.

In many ways, the Wonder Spot is the antithesis of those giant parks.

Louis Dauterman of Fond Du Lac took out the first permit for the spot in 1952, making it the longest-permitted attraction in the area, said Romy Snyder, executive director of the Wisconsin Dells Visitors and Convention Bureau.

The spot itself is a plain, worn gift shop at the top of a ravine and a crooked cabin built into the slope.

A review on calls the Wonder Spot "wonderfully goofy." The Yahoo! travel site describes the spot as a "scientific conundrum — where the laws of nature have gone awry."

According to a sign proudly placed at the base of the ravine, the Wonder Spot was discovered June 16, 1948. People who enter the spot, the sign warns, won't see correctly, stand erect "or feel quite normal ... in fact, on the cabin site the laws of natural gravity seem to be repealed."

Kirby called the Wonder Spot one of the top five most-visited mystery spots.

Generations of people have stopped to see it. Children who visited would return grown up, their own children in tow, Carney said. During the mid-1990s, he saw up to 50,000 people per summer.

Snyder, who grew up in the Dells, visited the Wonder Spot when she was a girl.

"We thought it was very cool. We always tried to figure out how they did that and never could. We did it all. We sat on a chair and it was only suspended by its back two legs, the ball rolling uphill, hanging from a doorway and your body slanted," Snyder said.

Carney, who bought the Wonder Spot from his sister in 1988, said he loved watching people's reactions.

"I don't know how many times I heard, 'Do you sell Dramamine?'" he said.

One woman, after stumbling through the cabin, sprinkled her mother's ashes on the ground.

"She just said, 'This was mom's favorite place and she wanted to be here,'" Carney said.

When people asked what caused the Wonder Spot, Carney's guides blamed it on igneous rock or simply replied they didn't know. He's seen people at the spot studying it with instruments who declared a force was at work. When pressed, though, Carney said it's all an optical illusion.

"We said don't try to figure it out," Carney said. "Just have fun."

Carney, a high school history teacher and baseball coach, said the road wasn't going to go directly through the Wonder Spot, but it would come within yards. With the mega-parks dominating tourism in the Dells and the spot's nostalgia compromised — "it's hard to run water uphill when a car is driving right by the fence," he said — he decided to get out.

"This town has changed," he said.

Joseph Kapler, the Wisconsin Historical Society's domestic life curator, plans to salvage as many souvenirs from the spot as he can before it's razed so he can create an exhibit. The Wonder Spot represents a bygone era, he said.

"We need to look back and see where it came from," Kapler said.

It isn't easy to say goodbye, Carney said. The most heartbreaking moment came a few weeks ago, when his 6-year-old daughter, Cassie, came to him, echoing a generation of Wisconsin children who visited the Wonder Spot before her:

"Daddy, can we go down there one more time?"

scott mentioned that, apparently, there are a dozen or so of these places where gravity goes awry peppered across the country and wondered if i'd ever been to one and, as a matter of fact, there used to be one right across the river from where i live, up in the mountains, just north of the town of catskill and my mom took my brother and i there one summer. i was probably about 11 or 12 years old but remember that it was this cabin built on the side of a hill and i'm pretty sure that it was just an optical llusion--but it sure was cool when i was in 7th grade! standing up straight you would be leaning at a 70ยบ angle, water poured weird, and things rolled uphill. a fun--and slightly freaky--afternoon.
it's not there anymore. at least, i haven't been able to find it again since i've learned to drive...

anybody got something like this they'd like to share...?

before we move on to the perhapanauts pin-up, i wanna mention again that craig and i, along with rico--and scott on sunday!--will be attending the big, huge, enormous NYC COMICON at the javitz center later this month! the dates are february 23, 24, and 25, and if you're in the area and at the show, come on by and see us! it's gonna be great!


what can i tell you about kelly yates...
well, a lot!
mike wieringo introduced me to kelly at a con in detroit years and years and years ago and we hit it off right away! kelly is this great guy who immediately makes you feel at ease. kelly was one of three or four guys that we knew that we thought was really talented but just wasn't getting a break from marvel or dc. since then, kelly's worked for both of them--my favorite story being a green arrow short he did in a justice league quarterly or something--sorry, kel, can't remember exaactly where right now...but really my favorite story so far that kelly lent his talents to would have to be a action-packed tellos adventure that he was kind enough to do for us in one of the tales of tellos books! he brought so much to that story--he really let his imagination go--and it was a blast to work with him!

so, being our friend, kelly wasn't asked so much as told that he would be doing a pin-up for us. smiling, as ever, kelly agreed and within a few days sent us this.


to check out more of kelly's art--and get an exclusive glance at his own (awesome!)creator-owned project, amber atoms, head on over to

thanks, kel! you're the best!

and craig just told me the other night that kelly might even be joining us in ny at the nyc show, so maybe you can come by the table and tell him how much you dig his pin-up in person! i know i will!

that's it for today!
smell ya later!


Bill Nolan said...

I think this place sounds a little bit like the slanted house at Clark's Trading Post in New Hampshire... maybe.

Scott Weinstein said...

Kelly's pin-up is great. I got to meet him at Heroes Con in June, and he was a really nice guy. He showed me a personal project he was working called Amber Atoms, which is a female Flash Gordon type story (I'm over-simplyfying it.) But, it was excellent. Go to his web site to check out pages from it.

Todd, now that you're mentioning those cabins were probably optical illusions, I'm remembering something similar from my youth. Has anyone ever been to King's Dominion in Virginia? Oh well, they had this place there called Yogi's Cabin. It was based off of the Yogi cartoon, but it was full of optical illusioins that made you feel smaller, like you couldn't stand up straight. I don't remember water flowing up hill. But, I do remember it being my favorite place in the park.


Brian said...

I second Scott's opinion on Kelly's pin-up and just want to say that I think he did a great job coloring it.

As for the man himself, I got to meet Kelly at the Baltimore con so I'll keep my fingers crossed that he makes it to the NYC show and that he brings some of those cool Amber Atom pages with him.

Steve Danger said...

Well that's kinda sad that they're closing such an interesting place in favor of a hiway. Happens far too often anymore.