Apple Valley Hillbilly Garden and Toyland – Calvert City, KY

Apple Valley Hillbilly Garden

Down in southwestern Kentucky, Calvert City (near Paducah) there’s a little back road (actually US Highway 68) that takes you to a place called Apple Valley Hillbilly Garden and Toyland. It is not necessarily what you would think of as a “garden,” but it is certainly hillbilly fun. And the toyland is amazing!

I visited there in early February 2018 and had a real good time with the proprietor Keith Holt who, ironically, looks like a hillbilly!

Hanging with the fascinating Keith Holt
Signs at Hillbilly Garden

I will tell you upfront, this place is not for everyone. Some people may look at it is a big junkyard. Others, like myself, look at it as a large folk art gallery. And, along with that is a fabulous toy collection and some smaller collections of things such as soda cans and beer cans, among other things.

When I arrived, I was met by Keith. In his late 50s or early 60s, Keith has shoulder length hair and a penchant for puns! Right down my alley!

A bottle tree (he has a better name — I forgot…)

But Keith is also a folk artist. He has taken all those bottles, old tires, old furniture in computer monitors and wires and cords and any other items it some people might consider trash and then turn those into a fun “garden.“ And he is built it at one level more for creativity by making sure that each story about each piece is some sort of a pun or play on words.

Keith has created at least 40 or 50 different “pieces“ that are stretched over what is probably a good acre of land. He is more than willing to take you on the grand tour and walk you around and tell you the stories behind each of the pieces of art did he is created.

Thronehenge in the Hillbilly Garden
He has a “Bumper Crop” in the garden
Love the “Sorry, We’re Open” sign!!
Flamingos are really tired.
Keith Holt giving his PUNishiing tour of the garden

I got my biggest chuckle out of a large circle of old toilets which I adoringly called “thronehenge. (see above photo)” He has another place with a couple of old mattresses and box springs and, of course, calls them his hillbilly springs or something like that. He has a Christmas tree that has a number of cans hanging from it. The tree is adorned with “Bud lights.“ How Christmas trees have to have lights, right?

I also got a kick out of a display right near the front that had four or five computer monitors including one on a snowboard. This display was called “surfing the web.“ Ha ha Ha ha ha!

Folk Art at Hillbilly Garden
Lawnmower Ranch (an homage to Cadillac Ranch in Texas)
Peace love and Jesus made out of bottles and things
These parishioners are pinned to their seats and bowled over by the preacher apparently
Ooh la la

Keith was throwing out stories to me left and right and puns front and backward. But, as a good blogger and a promoter of sites like this, I don’t want to ruin everything for you, the possible visitor, so you can make your own  visit and enjoy the PUNishment directly from Keith’s mouth! That is definitely the best way to go!

Back Side of Grandpa Oral Wallace’s original building

Keith’s Grandpa Oral Wallace bought an apple orchard and a two room house on 6 acres in November 6, 1928. According to Keith’s website:

“He started making apple cider and selling it at his new produce stand called “Shady Nock”. Then he built an under-ground still hidden in the barn and open up an auto camp with small zoo. He was a musician, so he performed for the guest. In 1931 after hearing HWY 68 was going to be paved the house was added onto so there would be a room to rent. The wood that was left over from the house was used to build a small country store (14’x14′) called Apple Valley. In this small space they had a small barbers chair where Oral would cut hair and a four seat diner where they served chicken dinners.  March 24, 1939 Gulf gas was added. Store/gas station closed down when Oral died February 28, 1964. Grandma Myrtle Wallace went back to selling stuff on the produce stand until 1988. Then in 2005, a change blew in !”

Inside the small original building
Grandpa Wallace’s original geetars and fiddle
Vintage Sign
Kitschy knick knacks and stuff
Old newspaper articles about the place
Fun stuff – even a Frog-a-lope
More knick knacks
Some of the can collections

That particular room is now filled with a lot of memorabilia about the early beginnings of Apple Valley. There is the old violin and guitar that belonged to Grandpa Oral.

There are hundreds of old soda and beer cans throughout the little building.  As a collector (when I was in junior high school), I was thrilled to see the old things, many of which are not around any more.

Can Collection
Old collector editions of RC Cans with baseball players
Old collector Falstaff Beer cans and a few others
And here is an oldie!
One of Keith’s many hand made puppets

Before moving from California to Kentucky, Keith was a puppeteer, actor and artist. He made and performed with puppets. Many of his puppets are also on display in this little building.

But, it’s a good proprietor and guide, Keith with sharp enough to leave the best for last. He walked me back to the yard and into a larger building in the backyard area and I was overwhelmed by the thousands of small toys and characters that he is a mast and put on display in this little place.

Keith with one of his creations
Puppets and other kitsch
Keith Holt is proud of his over 3000 piece Toyland, housed in a separate building on the property
A wide view of the Toyland room

In the Toyland there’s everything from Star Wars to the old little green soldiers that I used to collect as a young child. And anything in between that you can think of. Cars, trains and thousands of participants in the form of little creatures.

This is one of those places where you would need a few hours to actually see and identify all of the pieces.  So much!

A Panorama of the Toyland
Bobble heads galore (yes, that’s Ozzie!)

 

What can you see?
Hi Donald
A gathering of lost toy souls
There are hundreds of “action figures” protecting the Toyland

Keith told me that the collection in that room was only a portion of what he had and that he still has many others in boxes in a big semi truck to the side because he has no place to put them at this particular point.

The toy collection was not only amazing but lots of fun. Many of the toys I had seen do some part of my life and most thoroughly enjoyed reminiscing back about them. There were others that I had not seen. He made a point to show me numerous places where he had taken certain characters, dogs are action figures and put them together in scenarios, some of which you can see in the photos below. I honestly could not keep up with everything because my eyes were so full of eye candy.

Following are a few more scenes:

Hillbilly Garden Car
Who knows?
Whoa!
Scary (the one on the left of course)
Even found an old Roadside America book (no longer in print!!)

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Yard Art: Creativity with Scrap Metal, Chain Saw Art and “stuff” collections

Need some dolls? Shop in Buena Vista, Colorado
Need some dolls? Shop in Buena Vista, Colorado

As I travel the backroads of America and Canada I always run across all sorts of what some call “Yard Art”.  Others call it folk art, offbeat art, quirky things, etc.  Well, there is the whimsical and fun, there is the unique and then the downright strange. Some of the sites, like Cadillac Ranch above, are world famous.  Others are in the middle of nowhere and are happenstance and unexpected.  Following is a menagerie of quirky and offbeat whimsy and creativity that I have seen.  Enjoy the ride and see if you have been to any of these places…

SCRAP METAL DINOSAURS AND DRAGONS

Guitar Playing Scrap Metal Dragon - Harrietsville, Ontario
Guitar Playing Scrap Metal Dragon – Harrietsville, Ontario

Perhaps one of the most common types of yard art I see is scrap metal work.  And it seems that dinosaurs and dragons are the most popular.  Here are a few.

(UPDATE II – May 2015: On a recent trip to California, I discovered this great piece called “Horn Dragon” by Upper Lake, CA artist Diego Harris. It certainly fits into this post!)

"Horn Dragon" by Diego Harris.  Currently on display at Real Goods Store in Hopland, CA
“Horn Dragon” by Diego Harris. Currently on display at Real Goods Store in Hopland, CA

(UPDATE – October 2013: I have found another great scrap metal artist besides those noted below.  Visit my post on Larry Vennard from Centralia, Missouri)

Scrap Metal Dinosaur chasing a ram - Glasgow, Montana
Scrap Metal Dinosaur chasing a ram – Glasgow, Montana
Big White Dino made of old car parts - Bertram, Texas
Big White Dino made of old car parts – Bertram, Texas
Giant Scrap Metal Triceratops - near Rudyard, Montana
Giant Scrap Metal Triceratops – near Rudyard, Montana
Scrap Metal Dinosaur - work done by Wally Keller - near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Scrap Metal Dinosaur – work done by Wally Keller – near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Big Dragon - Jurustic Park - Marshfield, Wisconsin
Big Dragon – Jurustic Park – Marshfield, Wisconsin
Small triceratops in someone's yard in Kelly, Wyoming, near Grand Tetons National Park
Small triceratops in someone’s yard in Kelly, Wyoming, near Grand Tetons National Park
Big Scrap Metal Stegosaurus - Texas Pipe Company - Houston, Texas
Big Scrap Metal Stegosaurus – Texas Pipe Company – Houston, Texas
Grazing Dinosaur - Harrietsville, Ontario
Grazing Dinosaur – Harrietsville, Ontario
Hungry Dinosaur - Wally Keller collection near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Hungry Dinosaur – Wally Keller collection near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Skeleton Walking Dinosaur near Murdo, South Dakota
Skeleton Walking Dinosaur near Murdo, South Dakota
Dragon Biting my head off - Jurustic Park - Marshfield, Wisconsin
Dragon Biting my head off – Jurustic Park – Marshfield, Wisconsin
Scary Dragon - Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Scary Dragon – Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Metal Dragon Head - Salida, Colorado
Metal Dragon Head – Salida, Colorado
Metal Dragon on a Building - Clayton, New Mexico
Metal Dragon on a Building – Clayton, New Mexico

SCRAP METAL CRITTERS

Barbed Wire Buffalo Head – Sod House Museum – Gothenburg, Nebraska

Of course, dinosaurs and dragons are not the only creatures (critters) that can be seen out on the road.  Here are a few more scrap metal (found metal) critters from all over…

Big Parrot - Jurustic Park - Marshfield, Wisconsin
Big Parrot – Jurustic Park – Marshfield, Wisconsin
Scrap metal buck made from car parts - Kadoka, South Dakota
Scrap metal buck made from car parts – Kadoka, South Dakota
Scrap Metal Horses - Durant, Oklahoma
Scrap Metal Horses by Doug Owen – Durant, Oklahoma
Scrap Metal Alligator - Harrietsville, Ontario
Scrap Metal Alligator – Harrietsville, Ontario
Giant Armadillo - Texas Pipe Company - Houston, Texas
Giant Armadillo – Texas Pipe Company – Houston, Texas
Gigantic Scrap Metal Bull - Montrose, South Dakota
Gigantic Scrap Metal Bull – Montrose, South Dakota
Giant Scrap Metal Fish - by Gary Greff, on Enchanted Highway in North Dakota
Giant Scrap Metal Fish – by Gary Greff, on Enchanted Highway in North Dakota
Huge Pheasant Family - by Gary Greff on Enchanted Highway in North Dakota
Huge Pheasant Family – by Gary Greff on Enchanted Highway in North Dakota

See my complete tour of Enchanted Highway here

Metal Bird - Idaho Falls, Idaho
Metal Bird – Idaho Falls, Idaho
Scrap Metal Horse - Oil Springs, Ontario
Scrap Metal Horse – Oil Springs, Ontario
Scrap Metal Ostrich - Salida, Colorado
Scrap Metal Ostrich – Salida, Colorado
Scrap Metal Anteater - Walla Walla, Washington
Scrap Metal Anteater – Walla Walla, Washington
Scrap Metal Turtle - near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Scrap Metal Turtle – near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Big Horse - Clayton, New Mexico
Big Horse – Clayton, New Mexico
Scrap Metal Pink Flamingo at Melody Muffler in Walla Walla, Washington
Scrap Metal Pink Flamingo at Melody Muffler in Walla Walla, Washington
Scrap Metal Flamingo - Harrietsville, Ontario
Scrap Metal Flamingo – Harrietsville, Ontario

SCRAP METAL FOLK

The Tin Family - Enchanted Highway
The Tin Family – Enchanted Highway

Of course, dinos and critters are not the only things made out of scrap metal.  People are too.  Perhaps the biggest and most impressive scrap metal people I have ever seen are the three that comprise the “Tin Family” at the end of the Enchanted Highway in North Dakota (if driving from I-94 or first one if driving from Regent, ND).  The Dad is 45 feet tall, Mom is 44 feet tall and the Tin Kid is 23 feet tall.  But, there are many more that are unique.  Here are a few scrap metal folk found on the road…

Greedy Attorney - Jurustic Park - Marshfield, Wisconsin
Greedy Attorney – Jurustic Park – Marshfield, Wisconsin
Barbed Wire Indian Chief and Horse - Sod House Museum - Gothenburg, Nebraska
Barbed Wire Indian Chief and Horse – Sod House Museum – Gothenburg, Nebraska
Scrap Metal Mariachi Band - Hico, Texas
Scrap Metal Mariachi Band – Hico, Texas
Scrap Metal and wire Man and Dog at entrance to Gates of the Mountains in Montana
Scrap Metal and wire Man and Dog at entrance to Gates of the Mountains in Montana
Scrap Metal Farmer - Oil City, Ontario
Scrap Metal Farmer – Oil City, Ontario
Flute Player made from mufflers at Melody Muffler in Walla Walla, Washington
Flute Player made from mufflers at Melody Muffler in Walla Walla, Washington
Big Scrap Metal Soldier - near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Big Scrap Metal Soldier – near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Scrap Metal Blackfeet Warriors - Cut Bank, Montana
Scrap Metal Blackfeet Warriors – Cut Bank, Montana
Blackfeet Warrior 1 - Cut Bank, Montana
Blackfeet Warrior 1 – Cut Bank, Montana
Blackfeet Warrior 2 - Cut Bank, Montana
Blackfeet Warrior 2 – Cut Bank, Montana
Scrap Metal Lady Liberty - Hamtamck, Michigan
Scrap Metal Lady Liberty – Hamtamck, Michigan
15 foot Tall Mariachi Trumpet Player - Bertram, Texas
15 foot Tall Mariachi Trumpet Player – Bertram, Texas

Then there is the most magnificent of all scrap metal art pieces, the World’s Largest (according to the Guinness Book of World Recrod’s).  This is at the entry of the amazing Enchanted Highway in North Dakota:

Geese in Flight - World's Largest Scrap Metal Sculpture - Enchanted Highway off of I-94 in North Dakota
Geese in Flight – World’s Largest Scrap Metal Sculpture – Enchanted Highway off of I-94 in North Dakota

CHAIN SAW ART

Chainsaw Guy - Alpena, Arkansas
Chainsaw Guy – Alpena, Arkansas

Obviously, scrap metal is not the only medium used in the creation of yard art.  There is a ton of work don with chain saws and wood.  I have seen hundreds of pieces dot the country.  Here are a few from all over…

Wooden Bear Totem Pole - Gronk's in Superior, Wisconsin
Wooden Bear Totem Pole – Gronk’s in Superior, Wisconsin
Crusty Old Man
Crusty Old Man – Pauly’s Backwoods Gifts and Chainsaw Carvings – Gateway, Arkansas
Wooden Eagle - Red Cliff, Colorado
Wooden Eagle – Red Cliff, Colorado
Wooden Piano Playing Crow - Winter Wheat - Sparta, Ontario
Wooden Piano Playing Crow – Winter Wheat – Sparta, Ontario
Relaxing Bears - Sawtooth City, Idaho
Relaxing Bears – Sawtooth City, Idaho
Climbing Bears - Robbins Amazing Art - Ridgetown, Ontario
Climbing Bears – Robbins Amazing Art – Ridgetown, Ontario
Big Indian - Blackwater, missouri
Big Indian – Blackwater, Missouri
Big Moose - Shelby, Nebraska
Big Moose – Shelby, Nebraska
One of dozens of HUGE trolls in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
One of dozens of HUGE trolls in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Another Mt. Horeb Troll - for good measure
Another Mt. Horeb Troll – for good measure
Gigantic Peter Toth carved Indian in Idaho Falls, Idaho.  He has more than 55 of these around the US, all different.  I have only seen two.
Gigantic Peter Toth carved Indian in Idaho Falls, Idaho. He has more than 55 of these around the US, all different. I have only seen two.
Wooden Mermaid - Robbins Art - Ontario
Wooden Mermaid – Robbins Art – Ontario
Lady - Sharon, Pennsylvania
Lady – Sharon, Pennsylvania

The epitome of Chain Saw Art is the Chain Saw Totem Pole forest in Medford, Wisconsin.  Chainsaw Gordy has gone to a whole new cut above…. 21 poles with nearly 400 chainsaws in them, all done by Gordy Lekies.

Chainsaw Gordy - near Medford, Wisconsin
Chainsaw Gordy – near Medford, Wisconsin
Chainsaw Totem Pole - Medford, Wisconsin
Chainsaw Totem Pole – Medford, Wisconsin
Chainsaw Forest
Chainsaw Forest

MAILBOXES AS PART OF THE ARTWORK

Milk Can Mailbox - near Burke, South Dakota
Milk Can Mailbox – near Burke, South Dakota

Though not nearly as prevalent as Chain Saw art and metal art, there are the occasional unique mailboxes to be seen on the back roads of America.  I have passed dozens of plastic John Deere mailboxes, fish and cow mailboxes, etc., but then there are the really unique ones….

Tin Man Mailbox near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Tin Man Mailbox near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Mailbox for Jurustic Park in Marshfield, Wisconsin
Mailbox for Jurustic Park in Marshfield, Wisconsin
Chainsaw Carved Bear Mailbox, Ontario, Canada
Chainsaw Carved Bear Mailbox, Ontario, Canada
Knot Normal Mailbox - Peebles, Ohio
Knot Normal Mailbox – Peebles, Ohio
Antler Mailbox - Thornton, Idaho
Antler Mailbox – Thornton, Idaho
Chainsaw Mailbox - Medford, Wisconsin
Chainsaw Mailbox – Medford, Wisconsin
Scrap Metal Guy Mailbox - Dunkirk, Montana
Scrap Metal Guy Mailbox – Dunkirk, Montana

TOTALLY JUNKED OUT PLACES

Hamtramck Disneyland - Detroit, Michigan
Hamtramck Disneyland – Detroit, Michigan

Folk art abounds in this country, but there are some who have taken it to excess with knick-knacks, whirly-gigs, old toys, old stuff and more…and all in one place.  Some in the name of art and some just to, well, have a place for their stuff.  Though I have seen many across the country, here are some of the more outlandish examples (with two or three shots from each place)

Windmills and Whirlygigs at Hamtramck Disneyland in Detroit
Windmills and Whirlygigs at Hamtramck Disneyland in Detroit
Wooden Soldiers at Hamtramck Disneyland
Wooden Soldiers at Hamtramck Disneyland
Toys on the Roof at Hamtramck Disneyland - Detroit, MI
Toys on the Roof at Hamtramck Disneyland – Detroit, MI
Even a rocking horse on the roof at Hamtramck Disneyland
Even a rocking horse on the roof at Hamtramck Disneyland

Moving on to Woodstock, Ontario and Cliff Bruce’s Windmill Hill, another menagerie of the unusual….(see my writeup here)

Bruce Windmill Hill Main Gate - Woodstock, Ontario
Bruce Windmill Hill Main Gate – Woodstock, Ontario
Toys, Statues and Whirlygigs at Windmill Hill
Toys, Statues and Whirlygigs at Windmill Hill
More Stuff at Windmill Hill
More Stuff at Windmill Hill
Front Porch Collection at Windmill Hill
Front Porch Collection at Windmill Hill

Meander to Lesage, West Virginia and you can enjoy huge hot dogs while perusing the “collection” of things at Hillbilly Hot Dogs (see a slide show I did a few years ago)

Hillbilly Hot Dogs - Lesage, West Virginia
Hillbilly Hot Dogs – Lesage, West Virginia
Hillbilly Hot Dogs, LeSage, West Virginia
Hillbilly Hot Dogs, LeSage, West Virginia
Hub Cap Collection at Hillbilly Hot Dogs
Hub Cap Collection at Hillbilly Hot Dogs
License Plate Tree at Hillbilly Hot Dogs
License Plate Tree at Hillbilly Hot Dogs

Then there is the Flower Man House in Houston, Texas. Built by a man who had been a homeless alcoholic for years, he decided to turn his life around and began putting together his interestingly eccentric colorful house, which sits in an otherwise bland neighborhood.

Flower Man House - Houston, Texas
Flower Man House – Houston, Texas
Flower Man House - Houston, Texas
Flower Man House – Houston, Texas
Flower Man House - Houston, Texas
Flower Man House – Houston, Texas
Cheer for the Flower Man!! - Houston, Texas
Cheer for the Flower Man!! – Houston, Texas

And just around the corner from the Flower Man’s House is another quirky place – the Law Offices of Tim Hootman.  His office is in a brightly colored boxcar and has some unique art sitting outside the place.  Really funky…

Tim Hootman Law Office - Houston, Texas
Tim Hootman Law Office – Houston, Texas
Office is in a Bright Green Train Car - Jim Hootman
Office is in a Bright Green Train Car – Jim Hootman
This babe greets you at Hootman's Law Office
This babe greets you at Hootman’s Law Office
Unique metal work AND paint job at Tm Hootman's law office in Houston, Texas
Unique metal work AND paint job at Tm Hootman’s law office in Houston, Texas

If these are not quirky enough, how about this place in Lima, Montana…is it a shop, a restaurant, a hotel or just someone’s knick-knack collection?  It was closed, so I couldn’t really find out….

"Not the Hotel California" in Lima, Montana
“Not the Hotel California” in Lima, Montana
Sign is a Saw Blade
Sign is a Saw Blade
Stuff in front of the "shop" in Lima, Montana
Stuff in front of the “shop” in Lima, Montana
No Steaks and Burgers at this place in Lima, Montana
No Steaks and Burgers at this place in Lima, Montana

If you liked the place in Lima, how about the Junk Store in Buena Vista, Colorado?  This place seems to everything (you may not want or need)!!

Darndest Store in Town - Buena Vista, Colorado
Darndest Store in Town – Buena Vista, Colorado
Lots of Stuff at this store
Lots of Stuff at this store
Need some dolls? Shop in Buena Vista, Colorado
Need some dolls? Shop in Buena Vista, Colorado
Get Some goodies in Buena Vista, Colorado
Get Some goodies in Buena Vista, Colorado

I came across this fence in Parker, Idaho… completely made of roadsigns

Sign fence - Parker, Idaho
Sign fence – Parker, Idaho

In the small town of What Cheer, Iowa, a lady has gussied up her yard with old wheels, implements and even has a real “flower bed”!

Wagon Wheel Fence at a house in What Cheer, Iowa
Wagon Wheel Fence at a house in What Cheer, Iowa
A "Flower Bed" in What Cheer, Iowa
A “Flower Bed” in What Cheer, Iowa

Came across this little “health food store” in Gardner, Colorado, called H Food Store – Huajatollas Foods (see YouTube Video):

H. Food Store - Gardner, Colorado
H. Food Store – Gardner, Colorado
Colorful Huajatolla's Foods in Gardner, Colorado
Colorful Huajatolla’s Foods in Gardner, Colorado

And finally, we discovered a couple of places on a back road in central Kentucky.  We took Highway 77 (Nada Tunnel Road) and first came across a barn with a hubcap collection:

Hubcap Barn - Central Kentucky
Hubcap Barn – Central Kentucky
Closeup of hubcap barn in Central Kentucky
Closeup of hubcap barn in Central Kentucky

And we also came across this house near Orlando, Kentucky

House near Orlando, Kentucky
House near Orlando, Kentucky
Unique mobile at home in Orlando, Kentucky
Unique mobile at home in Orlando, Kentucky
Water Garden at home in Orlando, Kentucky
Water Garden at home in Orlando, Kentucky

Finally, this unique house in Talent, Oregon along with their Shoe Tree:

Spooky House in Talent, Oregon
Spooky House in Talent, Oregon
Shoe Tree in Talent, Oregon
Shoe Tree in Talent, Oregon

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